With the entry of Virgin Group's new MP3 player into the market, Apple
My opinion of Apple's stock notwithstanding, the portable player market has been Cupertino's to keep or lose since the launch of the iPod and mini. Competitors were slow to enter the business, and their products were universally clunky to operate as well as throw-me-out-of-the-nest ugly. Just take a look at offerings from Dell
Perhaps there's something to be said for the importance of personality in designing these gadgets, because there's plenty to suggest that the rest of the competition doesn't quite get it yet. Sony's
Branson's player -- named, of all things, "player" -- looks like one of the first designs that will be able to compete with the iPod on style. The tiny, 3.1-ounce player is slightly larger than the mini but lighter, and, at 5 gigs, it has 25% more disk space. It features a screen that is derivative of the iPod, to say the least. Virgin's ships with an FM tuner and will support Microsoft's
The moral of the story is that competition is coming for the iPod. And it's improving. The oft-mentioned iPod mini wait lists are not necessarily good. If Cupertino cannot deliver enough product (even the less sought-after iPod demands a one-month wait in some markets, according to an Apple store employee who emailed me from Germany), Apple will be leaving money on the table for Virgin and others to collect.
For related Foolishness:
- See Virgin start a (70) mile-high club.
- Who would dare say that Apple is rotten?
- Consider the first attack of the clones.