Are phones bringing a swan-song to dedicated DAPs?

24 Comments

Creativezenmosaic

I just caught the latest press release from Creative about their new Zen Mosaic Digital Audio Player when this question came to mind: are these devices slowly fading away as the same functions are becoming standard in mobile phones? Let’s take a look at the new Zen, for example:

  • 2- or 4-GB of flash storage ($99 and $129, respectively), with 8- and 16-GB models coming later. That’s plenty of room to carry tunes, but most new phones have some internal storage and many are including microSD expansion options.
  • 32 hours of audio playback, which is pretty darn good. Most phones can’t approach that, but some can play audio for well over 20 hours. Plenty in my book.
  • A built in speaker for the Mosaic. Nice, but probably of limited use and I can’t remember the last time I saw a phone that didn’t have some sort of external speaker that could be used for the same purpose.
  • 1.8-inch display on the Zen to display photos and videos. This doesn’t exactly trump most modern phones.
  • A built-in FM radio. That’s definitely attractive to some and I’ve seen very few phones with this capability. It’s a differentiator, but for a limited audience I think.

Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not picking on the new Creative Zen Mosaic as it looks good on paper and for folks that want a dedicated DAP, it should be a consideration. I could have easily inserted any other player in the mix here because the question really applies to the product genre, not a specific product.

What do you think? Are we at the point where a dedicated DAP is moving down (or off?) your gadget list due to phones offering similar functionality? I haven’t looked at sales numbers to confirm or refute my thought on this; I’m more interested in your opinions of the trend. For the record: I still have the first-gen Zune that I bought when it was introduced. However, for most audio & video, I use my first-gen iPhone these days; my son uses the Zune to watch transcoded DVDs we own.

24 Comments

Tery

Zero interest in a DAP when my iPhone does all that and more.

mw65719

@John in Norway:
There must be a lot of idiots out there. Somebody is buying all those (admittedly rather cheap) “USB stick” MP3 players …

As for using the phone instead of a DAP:
I fully agree with the battery argument – and for most phones the plug and sound quality issue.

Btw.: using a BT headset will run down your battery even faster …

John in Norway

I remember a couple of years ago buying a MP3 player. It was very basic – no bluetooth, no memory card slot. A week later I bought a proper phone (SE) and it took memory cards and had bluetooth stereo. The poor little DAP was confined to the bottom drawer.
Can you imagine a company today bringing out a crippled device without memory card slots or stereo bluetooth? You’d have to be a right idiot to buy one, wouldn’t you?

sam

i just put my zen player in retirement for my new lg vx9700 dare it has a good music player and will play videos in 3gp i have a motorola s9 bluetooth headset for it and thats something you cant do with out an add on on on any of the mp3 player that I’ve seen with voice command i can tell it to play a song by name and still serf the web over the 3g with the music playing and it will do 8gb micro sd

follick

A dedicated DAP is not much larger than a spare battery for my PDA.

Gordon Cahill

I think that until a player, whether it be a phone or not, is going to struggle unless it offers the whole package ala itunes.

The best sounding player I ever had was my ipaq 6965 phone. Way bwtter audio quality than any ipod/iphone. It did EVERYTHING the iphone does two years ago but I never used it as a player because it was a pain to use. It was a pain to get music onto (WMP is very flakey for sync) and the players were just painfull to use.

You can make te best phone/player in the world but until, like the iphone, the average consumer can use it with out reading the manual I just can’t see it being successful.

Gordon

Jenn

The main reason I think DAPs are here to stay is sound quality. And as long as there headphone fanatics, audiophiles, and even just people who wouldn’t be caught dead using stock earbuds, DAPs aren’t going anywhere.

On a side note, Creative sure is cranking out the new players. This is third new one in a few weeks! True, two of them haven’t been announced in the US yet, but it’s still interesting that Creative would update all of their lines (Stone -> Krystal; V series -> Mozaic; Zen -> Zen X-Fi) at the same time.

Jake

I agree Kevin but one thing to note is that Nokia and Sony Ericsson have included FM radios in there phones for years now to the point where I consider it a standard feature (even if it’s not one I actually use).

I don’t think there’s any real need to carry a seperate MP3 player when your phone can do everything and more. I suspect that’s also why Apple decided to release the iPhone when they did, to prevent other phones cannibalising iPod sales.

lsbeller

Frankly, I have never considered a DAP as I have always had a Windows Mobile Phone and use it to listen to podacsts and music especially since I can use the phone connection to download that media without having to connect to a computer to do so.

Steve

Oliver

Nothing worse than to fly across the country/ocean and listen to music on your cellphone, just to run out of battery when you need to make that urgent call at the other end.

Well, okay, the plane crash-landing is worse.

Scott Lewis

If the iPhone worked as a business communications device this might become a trend. For now, battery life concerns, low capacity and bad user interfaces for media playing on other devices mean carrying separate DAPs and phones for most.

I’m about to pop an 8GB microSD into my Blackberry and try out the Blackberry media sync with iTunes. If this works well, I may be able to leave the iPod nano at home.

A positive for the Blackberry vs the iPod / two device scenario is that I can carry a second battery for the Blackberry. The negative is that battery weighs more than the iPod nano.

Jez

It’ll be the same as watch sales going down due to people using the clock on their phones instead.

I’ve got a very nice samsung 4gb mp3 player which I did use with my sony stereo bluetooth wireless headphones. Then work gave me a blackberry pearl 8120 which has stereo bluetooth built in. I was also given an 8gb microSD card for it.
My nice mp3 player now just gathers dust, but I’m happy as I only have to charge one device (blackberry).

CTSLICK

Two reasons I don’t use my phone for music and video. (1) My iPod spoiled me when it comes to seamless integration between device and desktop for music purchases and music library synchronization. My attempts to create a similar solution for my Windows Mobile based phone were all grim failures. (2) Count me among those that refuse to use my phone for music or video due to battery concerns. Of the two reasons this is surely the biggest problem for me.

EdT.

I suspect the dedicated DAP will be around for awhile yet. While it may seem like a great idea to have a whole lot of functionality (camera, DAP, PDA, phone) in a single package – the reality is that in many cases cell phones are being paid for by the employers, and many employers (mine included) have policies concerning the use/storage of personal music and other media files on Company-owned devices. So, either I keep a separate DAP, or I have 2 phones. The first sounds like the more cost-effective alternative.

~EdT.

Dave

Very few people I knew use their phone to listen to music. What surprises me is that the one area that dedicated players had the advantage, they’ve mostly walked away from – having a hard drive (and very large storage space). The smaller memory based players are nice (I prefer to use my Zen when I work out), but I bought an iPod classic (first apple purchase!) because of all the podcasts, audio books and videos I like to carry with me (not to mention my Napster to Go account). Throw in all the apps that a phone like the iPhone can make use of, and you’re limiting the memory even more.

Sumocat

GT2L: Am I reading correctly that you need 20-24 hours of continuous use out of a music phone? You do know that puts you in the niche market, right? Most people take breaks to sleep, eat, and take care of hygiene in a 24-hour period. :)

Niels Andersen

For me it’s a lot about interfaces. I’ve had a bunch of Sonyericsson phones in the past that are all marketed as music phones, but the UI and syncing was a pain in the butt.

I’ve just ordered an iPhone and I’m excited to see if that will make me want to get rid of my dedicated DAP. I love the simplicity of syncing and using the iPod. The phones I’ve had have simply not been up to snuff, but I don’t know if SE phones are generally considered good at doing mp3 stuff.

Dave

Very few people I knew use their phone to listen to music. What surprises me is that the one area that dedicated players had the advantage, they’ve mostly walked away from – having a hard drive (and very large storage space). The smaller memory based players are nice (I prefer to use my Zen when I work out), but I bought an iPod classic (first apple purchase!) because of all the podcasts, audio books and videos I like to carry with me (not to mention my Napster to Go account). Throw in all the apps that a phone like the iPhone can make use of, and you’re limiting the memory even more.

Dave

Very few people I knew use their phone to listen to music. What surprises me is that the one area that dedicated players had the advantage, they’ve mostly walked away from – having a hard drive (and very large storage space). The smaller memory based players are nice (I prefer to use my Zen when I work out), but I bought an iPod classic (first apple purchase!) because of all the podcasts, audio books and videos I like to carry with me (not to mention my Napster to Go account). Throw in all the apps that a phone like the iPhone can make use of, and you’re limiting the memory even more.

Woodstock

I agree with several of the above posters — since I use my cell phone for business, I can’t afford to have the battery drained when getting off a plane because I was listening to music during the entire flight. A separate device is imperative, and I’m quite pleased with my Creative Zen.

Marin Perez

I lost my iPod and decided to not buy a new one, as I’m waiting until next month to upgrade to the iPhone 3G.
I’m using my phone as a dedicated music player, and it’s awful. The 2.5 mm jack requires an adapter that’s always getting disconnected. I used to use my phone to browse the Web while on the train to work, but now can’t – still won’t be able to with the iPhone. If I need to check a text or e-mail, there’s no way to get back to the spot I was at in the music.
Now I’m debating whether I should just go ahead and buy a DAP to go along with the iPhone 3G.

GoodThings2Life

I disagree. The entire reason that I bought a Zune AND use it daily is because I refuse to use my phone as a music player (thereby wasting battery life).

Now, if they can get it to where I can get 12 hours of continuous playback AND 8-12 hours of continuous talk time, THEN I will reconsider. Until then, I’ll continue to diversify my gadget experience.

Royce Mathew

I use my phone for music, but I try to carry a DAP when possible. Using your phone for music means that you drain the battery of your phone; and for some people people I think that isn’t acceptable. I’d prefer a dedicated DAP that I can listen to and drain without worries, and a cell phone that will be ready when I need to check something online or make a call.

Sumocat

DAPs are on their way to the niche market. They’ll still be around, but considering the vast majority of DAP users also carry phones, convergence is inevitable. And considering how many FM stations broadcast on the web, even that’s a dwindling consideration.

Comments are closed.