So does the Zune have a chance? Microsoft thinks so, and the market just might as well. Although I own an iPod Nano and am part of a pretty successful podcast in iTunes, this is very interesting news item from The Observer this weekend:
The iPod, the digital music player beloved of everyone from Coldplay’s Chris Martin to President George Bush, is in danger of losing its sheen. Sales are declining at an unprecedented rate. Industry experts talk of a ‘backlash’ and of the iPod ‘wilting away before our eyes’. Most disastrously, Apple’s signature pocket device with white earphones may simply have become too common to be cool.
On Tuesday the eyes of iPod-lovers the world over will be on Steve Jobs, the co-founder and chief executive of Apple, when he seeks to allay fears that it could follow Sony’s tape-playing Walkman into the recycling bin of history.
Jobs is widely expected to announce the most ambitious iPod service yet – the sale of feature-length films via the internet for viewing on the devices, which may receive an expanded ‘widescreen’ and improved storage capacity. If downloading movies from a computer to an iPod proves even half as revolutionary as it did for music, the multibillion-pound DVD industry could be quaking. There are rumours that Jobs will also announce a long expected ‘iPhone’, combining the music function and sleek style of an iPod with a mobile phone.
Industry-watchers warn that the iPod could soon be regarded by teenage cynics as their ‘parents’ player’ because a mass-market product rarely equates with edgy fashionability. Although it has sold nearly 60 million actual iPods and a billion downloaded songs worldwide, cracks have begun to appear in the edifice. The Zandl Group, a New York-based trends forecaster which regularly interviews a panel of 3,000 consumers aged 25-35, recently picked up its first significant criticisms. ‘The iPod is far and away the most popular tech gadget with our panellists – however, for the first time we are hearing negative feedback about the iPod from some panellists,’ said the organisation’s spokeswoman, Carla Avruch. ‘Panellists cite that the batteries are not replaceable, so when they die the entire player must be replaced,’ she said. ‘We have heard from some conspiracy theorists that the batteries are made to die soon after the warranty ends.