Creative has been trying hard to take away some of Apple’s market share in the portable MP3 player market. In the past it has focused on losing strategies like expanded marketing ignoring the fact that its bloated product line is a serious problem in and of itself.
Now, Creative has apparently hit upon yet another winning strategy — using firmware upgrades to disable features of its players. According to a number of recent reports, Creative released firmware “upgrades” for two of its models that disabled the FM recording ability of the players. Beta News writes,
Specifically, the firmware change affects the company’s Zen MicroPhoto and Zen Vision:M players. In the release notes, Creative gives no reasoning for the change other than saying “this firmware removes your player’s FM recording feature.”
Creative pretty much refused all comment on the changes, but it is almost certainly an attempt to appease rights holders who have complained that FM recording features hurt CD sales.
This new direction should finally help Creative overtake Apple. Perhaps at some point Creative might want to add an electric shock feature that temporarily stuns users who try to play any file on their player not explicitly authorized by the RIAA. That should help Creative leave Apple in its dust.
Creative Zen Players Lose FM Recording. Ed Oswald, BetaNews, October 17, 2006.
Wow, I thought the U.S. FCC was a bunch of fascist micro-managers, but low powered FM transmitters for iPods and other MP3 players are currently illegal to use (but apparently not sell or by) in the United Kingdom.
The UK is finally creating new regulations which should make such transmitters legal by Christmas.
UK govt says iTrip street legal… almost. Tony Smith, RegHardware.Co.UK, October 6, 2006.
Back in 2004, Creative CEO Sim Wong Hoo said that not only was his company going to overtake the Apple’s popular iPod, but that it would do it by out-marketing Apple,
I’m planning to spend some serious money – I intend to out-market everyone. The MP3 war has started and I am the one who has declared war.
At the time Hoo said that, Apple had 42 percent of the market in portable MP3 players. After making MP3 players the company’s focus and spending upwards of $100 million in that marketing campaign where does Creative stand today?
Apple has about 75 to 80 percent of the MP3 player market. In the 3rd quarter of 2006, Apple sold about $1.7 billion worth of iPods. During the same period, Creative’s total revenues (which includes products other than MP3 players), was a mere $228 million and the company posted a $114 million loss.
Instead of focusing on marketing, Creative should have thought about building a better product — or perhaps less of them. At one point, Creative had upwards of 25 different models of MP3 players for sale. Moreover, most of them suffered from feature creep and were complicated as hell for consumers compared to the relatively simplified features and UI of the iPod.
Creative declares ‘war’ on Apple’s iPod. Tony Smith, The Register, November 18, 2004.
Creative’s Loss Surges on MP3 Woes. Ed Oswald, BetaNews, May 3, 2006.
iPod sales drive Apple earnings. iPod sales drive Apple Earnings. Tom Krazit, CNET, April 19, 2006.
Apple’s iPod Hi-Fi was a pretty lame product announcement, apparently made even lamer by the device’s lack of video out ports and no ability to sync the iPod while it is docked in the Hi-Fi,
I was surprised to find that the iPod Hi-Fi lacks any sort of video output, considering the photo and video capabilities of the fifth-generation iPod. But you’re not totally out of luck: You can get an iPod-compatible 3.5-mm to RCA audio/video cable, attach the 3.5-mm end to the iPod’s headphone jack, and hook up the yellow video RCA end to your TV’s video input (making sure to set the iPod to “TV On”). This lets the video come out of the top of the iPod, and the audio will still be fed into the Hi-Fi via the dock. Also, when you want to sync the iPod with your PC, you’ll need to take it out of the dock, as there’s no sync connector on the speaker.
And all for only $349.
Stoopid. If you’re going to piss off all those 3rd party developers for the iPod, at least do it with something that’s halfway decent.
Apple iPod Hi-Fi. PCMag.Com, March 3, 2006.
PlaylistMag’s Christopher Breen has an excellent tutorial on how to get the most out of iTunes’ Smart Playlists.