iPod Killer, Nth Try, by Sony this Time

Sony’s introducing its own new line of Flash-based MP3 players in a perceived bid to compete against Apple. Here’s the skinny from pocket-lint.co.uk:

  1. NW-E103, NW-E105 and NW-E107: one non-rechargeable AAA battery and 70 hours of playback.
  2. NW-E405, NW-E407, NW-E505 and NW-E507: rechargeable battery, 50 hours of playback, 3 hours playback after a 3-minute charge, 80% charge in 45 minutes
  3. profit!

I’m a bit unclear on prices. The article seems to claim they’ll come-in at slightly higher price points than Apple’s current line-up.

Why did I mention “perceived bid?”. While “cool” and likely superior in raw technical specs, these players will likely face the same uphill battles most other “iPod-Killers” have had to fight: iPod buyers are iTunes users, and are part of the iPod ecosystem and economy. Sure there is no shortage of software that’ll interoperate with the “iPod Killers”, and no shortage of online music marketplaces. But they just don’t have the mind share, the level of integration and simplicity enjoyed by the iPod, iTunes, the iTunes Music Store, and their surrounding economy.

Big players such as Sony and Microsoft need to get together to market a comprehensive musical experience, which we consumers can easily see ourselves become a part of. When it comes to playing music, we’re less about hardware specs than we’re about use cases. Here are a few questions I find myself asking: “can i take this thing running? Can I easily grip it in the palm of my hand while I run, so i can occasionally skip a song or adjust volume with my thumb? Can i easily feel my way around the controls without looking at it? how fast and easily can i get music onto this thing? How much can I accessorize? Will it make me look pretty? Do I have a shot at ever being cool?”.

So far, Sony’s big story appears to be technical specs for yet another flash-based mp3 player. But who is Sony trying to cater to here? People who build their own PCs from hardware they find on pricewatch.com? Or are they trying to reach out to the rest of us? What’s with the cryptic names and the flurry of different models?

Focus on the overall experience. Come-up with a story. Work it into a strong brand. The device tech specs will follow.

Develop a Passionate Wake. Consider consulting from these people?

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