Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Battle for the MP3 lowlands...

I have been unabashed about my desire for an MP3 player - both on my blog as well as with my wife. If last year's big story was about the iPod locking up the high-end Digital Audio Player market, the story of 05' (as evidenced by CES and Macworld) is going to be about the low end. Make no mistakes, Steve Jobs doesn't want to make the same mistakes he made in the 1980s by trying to attract some of the low-end market.

So Apple has introduced the minimalist chic iPod Shuffle. While I think that this will go over great with the Jogging and low-budget fashion concious individuals, I am not sure this will help him tie-up the low-end MP3 player market. While the 1GB iPod shuffle is probably the most affordable 1GB mp3 player on the market @ $149, for $50 more (and probably less than that after some dilution) I can get a Creative Zen Micro 1GB? Or a Rio Carbon 2.5GB with 2.5 times the capacity? Oh, and both of those devices have real navigation and an LCD display.

The Zen Micro seemed to be just as hot as the iPods this holiday season, with most retailers running out of stock. Zen Micro now introduced 3 new capacities for the Micro - 1,4,and 6 GB join five, and interestingly enough, there is only about a $20-30 price difference between them. (Which means that the least popular sizes will be on sale soon :) ). They also introduced the Zen Micro Photo with 5 and 6GB capacities, and at $300-350, they are a bargain when compared to the iPod photo at $499. Granted, the iPod photo starts at 40GB, but my laptop hard drive isn't even that big.

Ah yes, it's going to get interesting.

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