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Music Media Media (Apple)

iPod Casualties Offer New-In-Box Bargains 324

Posted by kdawson
from the new-old-stock-market dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For the last few years makers from Creative to Virgin have proclaimed their latest digital audio player to be an iPod Killer, only to watch those portables flame-out in the marketplace. This doesn't mean there was anything wrong with them, in fact some were pretty decent. They just couldn't compete under all the iPod hype. It turns out that this pattern has created a huge sub-market of new-in-the-box stock, sold for pennies on the dollar to overstock vendors who then pawn them off cheap to the public. For the price of a basic iPod Shuffle you can now acquire some well-equipped units from a few years back. Examples include the 40GB Toshiba Gigabeat F40 and AlienWare's CE-IV with external speaker system."
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iPod Casualties Offer New-In-Box Bargains

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  • by creimer (824291) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @01:41AM (#19305919) Homepage
    Difference between an "iPod" and "40GB Toshiba Gigabeat F40"? One is cool and the other is geek speak. Go figure.
    • by Ambvai (1106941) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @01:46AM (#19305927)
      Calling it the Gigabeat F40 would've been cool... In the 80s...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @04:04AM (#19306473)
      It's not marketing, it's the fact that the companies trying to compete with Apple don't know why "40GB Toshiba Gigabeat F40" is a bad name. A much more fundamental problem than marketing.

      Every company that is competing with Apple is staffed managers, engineers, and other people who have spent their entire lives working with Windows and ugly ass beige x86 machines at home and work.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tommertron (640180)
        Isn't naming the product part of the marketing of it? Apple just has better marketers.
    • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @07:22AM (#19307561)

      Difference between an "iPod" and "40GB Toshiba Gigabeat F40"? One is cool and the other is geek speak. Go figure.

      That's why I call my Toshiba Gigabeat the "t-Bag".

    • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @08:43AM (#19308231) Homepage Journal
      I've heard this argument about lots of things: X is popular, therefore it must be marketing "hype".

      Why is the proposition that a product or book or movie is exceptionally good less credible than the proposition that a marketing campaign is particularly good?

      If it were so easy to manufacture an 'iPod' success or a 'Harry Potter' success through hype, why do attempts to duplicate these successes fail, since hype can be easily bought? Are they just not paying enough money?

      This notion,I believe, comes from two things: not "getting" the thing in question (e.g. "but they iPod has less storage than X, and X is cheaper" or "the Wii doesn't have cutting edge graphics"), and a misunderstanding about what marketing is. Marketing is communication, and effective communiation starts with understanding. Yes, it is possible to create some horrible dog of a product and sell quite a bit through hype, but this is not the only way to use marketing.

      Marketing and engineering should be complementary disciplines. Engineering is about trade offs, and marketing is about understanding value. Unfortunatley, both engineering and marketing often are consulted too late in the game, and shoddy work is common in both fields.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Puff of Logic (895805)

        Engineering is about trade offs, and marketing is about understanding value.

        Your points are well-made, and I agree that there is something of a knee-jerk reaction that if something is popular, it must be somehow crap or hyped. That a product might genuinely succeed on its own merits doesn't seem to occur to some people. However, I think perhaps you have a slightly rosy view of marketing. While marketing is certainly an avenue of information dissemination for a new or improved product (in accordance with your "understanding value" idea), I think a very large portion of marketing

  • by Bin_jammin (684517) <> on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @02:02AM (#19306007)
    that Apple selling billions of dollars worth of ipods and accessories is all hype? I'm sure there have been many decent players that have come to market, but no ipod killer. Why? Because the ipod does what it does very well, it's affordable, and there's a flood of accessories that go with it. I can go into damn near any record, computer, electronics, or fashion store in any mall or town and find at least an ipod skin or cover of some kind, odds that they'll have a gigabeat f40 or zune accessory? I'd say the hype is all in articles talking about decent players being given away at pennies on the dollar, when you've got a similar player that can't be given away, hype is your best friend.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by panaceaa (205396)
      I'm not an absolutely huge music fan, and I actually like the less commercial radio stations on the air. (A local station here plays jazz and blues mixed in with NPR news updates.) But I hate the radio when I have people in the car (it doesn't set a nice mood), and I completely lack non-vinyl music to play in my apartment when guests come over. For those situations, it'd be great to have a music player.

      So for me, as a possibly occasional iPod user, I disagree that iPods are "affordable". It's not worth
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @03:18AM (#19306317) Journal
      I'm gonna sound like an Apple fanboy, although in reality I'm more like the opposite. But it's only fair to acknowledge what Apple did right.

      Thing is, before Apple being the #1 player with all the accessories and brand name and all, it was just another player. Everyone could make a HDD based player... and fucked up.

      E.g., I remember going to a few shops in '99 to get an MP3 player. (Yeah, one of those "back in my day" tales;) There was the iPod or there were some things that qualified as one or more of:

      A) As big as a fucking brick. (E.g., I remember the Archos brand name just because it was the biggest one on display. It looked like two 3" HDDs stacked.)

      B) Overpriced to hell and back. (Oh, they had some extra feature ahead of their time, but not worth paying that kinda premium for it. E.g., there were those offering video playback... except they cost more than a decent laptop, which could play those videos in higher res.)

      C) Encumbered by retarded world-domination attempts. (E.g., no Sony could actually play MP3, even after they had started grudgingly calling them MP3 players. If you read the fine print, they offered to convert your MP3s to their own 64kb/s codecs that sounded like playing the song through a cheap old digital watch. I'm sorry, but MP3 is lossy as it is, converting it to another lossy codec just gives you basically a multiplication of that.)

      D) Were an interface nightmare. (Creative, I'm looking at you.)


      I'm sorry, I may not be the most hip and fashion-aware guy around, but if I end up with something the size and weight of a brick on my belt, then at least it better not cost _more_. I ended up buying a CD-based player at that time, since it was a lot cheaper and actually lighter than some of those.

      Years later I got a Creative Zen, because it was one of those clearance bargains the summary mentions. It's still bigger than a same generation iPod, and still encumbered by retarded ideas. E.g., I can't actually just plug the USB cable in and drag-and-drop the music files on it, you actually need Creative's software for that. Why? E.g., even if I wanted to start a company producing accessories for it, it doesn't have a little connector like the iPod has. The only accessory you can make for it, will have to be connected through 3.5mm audio jack. I.e., either it's headphones or it's speakers, and not too smart ones either.

      What I'm trying to say is: even just saying "but iPod has accessories" makes it sound like some random twist of fate, and absolves Creative and Sony and everyone of all responsibility. It makes it sound like some other people just happened to make accessories for the iPod and not for the Zen or Walkman, dunno why, it must be hype again. In reality there was a time where that market was up for grabs for everyone, and the likes of Creative and Sony just blew it fair and square. That iPod ended up king of the hill and worth making accessories for, simply because (at the time when it counted) it was indeed the better player.
      • by kyrre (197103) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @03:50AM (#19306437)
        E.g., I remember going to a few shops in '99 to get an MP3 player. (Yeah, one of those "back in my day" tales;) There was the iPod or there were some things that qualified as one or more of:

        The iPod was released [] in October of 2001. And if I remember correctly it was priced very high. It was also Mac only for the first year.
        • Could be that it was 2001, then, or maybe 2002. Who knows. I can't say I marked the date in the calendar or anything. It's not like it was some major turning point in my life or anything, and it was 5-6 years ago, so, well, I think I have am excuse to be fuzzy on the details. Heck, it could be that I'm mixing up several visits to the store in one.

          And yeah, I do remember that everything was very expensive at the time, which is why I got the CD-based player. But I do remember that most other stuff was even mo
      • by dido (9125) <dido@imp e r> on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @04:12AM (#19306499)

        E.g., I can't actually just plug the USB cable in and drag-and-drop the music files on it, you actually need Creative's software for that.

        And you can just plug in the USB cable for an iPod and drag and drop music files on it without having Apple's software or (under GNU/Linux) miscellaneous third-party software specifically designed to rebuild the proprietary file structures on the iPod installed on your computer? The last Creative music player I had access to, from what I remember, did not require any special software. It plugged into my Gentoo-based laptop and I was able to copy music files to and from it using nothing other than Linux's USB storage driver, as though it were an ordinary USB thumb drive. Can't remember the actual model (the device didn't belong to me, but to a friend whom I don't see all that often), but it was definitely a Creative, and probably 2003-2004 vintage.

        • I've used Creative MP3 players back since first generation devices. I have a Zen Nano now, and it works just like a USB drive and requires no special software.

          The first generation device, I actaully got "free" for getting 50.00 worth of music from (and this was back when they costs 100 - 200.00). It used a SmartMedia card. You could use the special software, or just drag MP3s to the SmartMedia card through file manager. Being first generation, it was buggy and I occasionally had to use the specia
      • First, the iPod uses proprietary software to load up its music. You can't just 'drag and drop' music into it like a USB drive and play it. You must use iTunes. The only alternative outside of iTunes are some quasi-hacked open source alternatives. The iPod is not terribly friendly with non-iTunes software.

        Second, maybe you have some archaic version of a Creative Zen, but my Creative Zen didn't even come with software to load MP3s. It just piggybacks off of Windows Media or just about any other piece of
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Durzel (137902)
      That's a little naive though if you don't mind me saying.

      For starters the accessories market that exists to cater for the iPod is there because of its popularity, not because the design automatically lends itself better than any other product. If the others had conquered the market to the same extent Apple has there would be the same amount of accessories available for their products.

      Secondly, for what it is the iPod(s) could definitely be cheaper. All we're talking about really is a hard drive (or flash
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by CleverBoy (801540)

      I'd say the hype is all in articles talking about decent players being given away at pennies on the dollar, when you've got a similar player that can't be given away, hype is your best friend.

      You got that right. There was an article on SmartHouse a while back [], when Apple's accessory licensing program was less than ideal for accessory makers. Apple had just decided to charge them 10%, up from 1.5% for each accessory they made that connected to the iPod. Apple relented and decided to only charge $4 per acces

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @07:10AM (#19307469) Homepage
      There is one reason I use an Ipod, One.

      That it's interface (not the screen the butt connector) is 100% open and interfaces to a huge range of equipment.

      I can dock my ipod in the kitchen wall dock and see the LCD readout of what is playing in the garage, basement, living room and bathroom on my whole house audio system's touchscreens. In the car I see the information and can browse the songs and playlists on my car's stereo screen while the ipod is safe in the glovebox out of view when I leave the car. I stop and park the ipod pauses and shuts off, I start the car and the ipod turns on and plays from where I last left off at.

      NO OTHER mp3 player on the market has the level of integration. The Zune cant do that so it's already a dead body because microsoft was too short sighted.

      That is why many people select the Ipod. I love my iRiver, it actually records in stereo with manual level adjustemnts at full 320Kbps mp3. The ipod cant record anywhere as good as it, but the Ipod has integration that no other mp3 player even bothers to duplicate.

      That is where every single other player fails. Have that charging/dock connector be 100% open and documented and allow companies to make crap for your product without paying extortion fees back to you.

      THAT is how apple sealed the deal with the ipod.
      • If this is so 'standard', then why do no other players support it, and why aren't apple accessories compatible with other players?
    • by sootman (158191)
      The funny thing is, looking at the article, there's not a single player I'd get, for a friend or for myself as a toy, even if they were close to free. I just look at the front panel and think "There's no scroll wheel. I'll have to click-click-click to get around.*"

      Also, there is such thing as a cheap(er) iPod. Go to -> store -> click the red 'save' tag in the right column (about 2/3 the way down) then (if it isn't already selected) click 'Apple Certified (iPod).' That gets you refurbished an
  • hype (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Scudsucker (17617) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @02:03AM (#19306009) Homepage Journal
    There is nothing preventing anyone from listening to the exact same music for similar prices on equally priced or cheaper players. It's not "hype" that keeps the iPod on top, it's the fact that no company has made a product that competitive.
  • yes they can (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @02:05AM (#19306025) Journal
    Dell DJ Series- yes 512 MB not sold at 15$ creative zen- yes 1 Gig 20$ 20 gig 100$ archos- probably 40 gig not sold at 180$ originally 600-700$ they had some problems- people wouldnt buy them [overpriced?] they were comparable as far as the amount of storage to the Ipod but I am guessing this is a case of Ipod's momentum killing off anything that isnt drastically better. why buy something that isnt as well known when it doesnt do anything spectacular compared to the Ipod?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @02:08AM (#19306039)
    The non-iPod market reminds me of when I look at Linux desktops. I, or almost anyone with a Mac, could stand in front of a two machines and make a giant list of glaring and astonishingly obvious problem with fonts, alignment, the way UI elements operate, how colour is used to convey importance and information, the names of applications, the sets of options presented to the user, how errors are handled, and so on.

    I get the same feeling when I see the non-iPod players. The problems with the entire package, player, software, and store(s), is so obvious to anyone with an iPod that one has to think that the companies are absolutely delusional in their development.

    You would think they would just need to spend the cash to have a room with:

    A Mac running iTunes
    An iPod
    One iPod user
    Their player they are developing
    A machine running their software

    and let that person point out all the glaring problems these companies have coming up with a complete package like Apple has with the iPod/iTunes/iTMS.

    • by ItsIllak (95786)
      That'd be great - we could all then own iPods and iPod rip-offs, and the associated court time involved. It might even bring Apple to the critical mass where the number of lawyers in the company outstrips the entire staff, I'm sure that'd cause a meltdown.

      The reason you beleive this is because you're so used to how your iPod works. Sure, in some ways it may be better (the click wheel for instance is very good), but in many ways it's just what you've gotten used to.

      The same argument works for IE vs FF, vi
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Goaway (82658)
        No, the difference between bad and good design is that one of them you need to "get used to", the other one you don't.

        People who claim that the only difference between things is what you are used to are mostly people who have never used anything with actual good design.

        Linux users, for instance.
    • I, or almost anyone with a Mac, could stand in front of a two machines and make a giant list of glaring and astonishingly obvious problem with fonts, alignment, the way UI elements operate, how colour is used to convey importance and information, the names of applications, the sets of options presented to the user, how errors are handled, and so on.

      I, or almost any computer tech with experience with Windows, Linux, AND Mac have to actually sit down in front of the machine and use the input devices to discov

  • No matter how you slice it, a gigabeat ain't an iPod.
  • Am I unduly suspicious, or is there something wrong when an 'anonymous reader' submits an article that is basically a sales pitch?
    • by mstone (8523)
      No, you're not; and yes, there is. Especially when the tease contains high-test flamebait like, "They just couldn't compete under all the iPod hype."

      Of course troll-whoring like that is pretty much guaranteed to give Slashdot's editors a stiffy, so of course it got approved.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @02:46AM (#19306203)
    Just like the Zune, any non-iPod device is something you only show to your very closest friends, amongst nervous laughter, as you explain to them the embarrassing chain of events that led you to buying it.
  • by iamacat (583406) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @03:00AM (#19306255)
    Just remember how clunky the devices were before iPod and how inconvenient online music sales were before iTMS. USB 1.0 use alone meant a PC hung for 10 minutes after you located mp3 files to transfer manually on your hard drive. The use of Firewire, although phased out later, meant that it was now practical to sync your whole library - to a device you could jog with.

    Obviously after iPod became a market leader, it's not enough for the same companies that tarnished their image in recent past to come up with a device that has roughly the same features as the iPod for a similar price. Offer one click hardware-accelerated DVD transfer or saving individual songs as MP3s based on info received from over-the-air FM stations and we are off to something. Of course, this product will have to be made in a free country.
  • This phenomenon is well known to devotees of Woot! []. iPod knockoffs comprise seemingly half the seven new products offered each week—various Roomba models comprise the other half—and a good chunk of the selection during each Woot-off.
  • by gig (78408) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @03:47AM (#19306427)
    > They just couldn't compete under all the iPod hype.

    Bullshit. They failed for technical reasons or for DRM reasons or for a combination of technical and DRM reasons and may get an assist from bad or no design. You are defending the 8-track tape. It is pitiful from a technical perspective. The "PC" technology market did not take over the consumer entertainment technology market as planned. Let it go.

    iPod hype hit in like 2004-2005 when the iPod was already years old and had already bested all rivals on technical, DRM, and design merits. Something like 90% of iPods ever sold have color screens, that excludes the first 3 generations entirely, they are just a blip on the radar, but those were sales to a much, much geekier crowd.

    It may be a treasure trove for Slashdot readers but maybe that's only because we will have the right combination of diminished expectations and technical know-how to not be disappointed in one of these devices.

    • They failed for technical reasons or for DRM reasons or for a combination of technical and DRM reasons and may get an assist from bad or no design.

      What DRM did these players have which the IPod didn't? Can you give some examples?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by furball (2853)
        They failed because they couldn't support the one DRM that had mass market adoption: iTunes Music Store. No one else in any meaningful numbers bought into any other DRM scheme out there.

        I mean shit. They sold hundreds of millions (if not billions) of tracks.
      • My first player, a Sony NW-MS11 Walkman, used OpenMG Jukebox (which later became SonicStage) to store and encode music in Sony's proprietary ATRAC format. You could rip CDs with a third-party application to play them on your PC, but it had to be encoded in ATRAC to be playable on the player.
  • I Love My iPod (Score:2, Interesting)

    by arollo (1108575)
    When I was a DJ on my college station a couple years back, I bought an iPod so that I didn't have to drag my records and CD's all the way down to the university on my bike. I ran my show off of my little box of rock, and damn it, the thing has taken a severe beating and keeps on ticking. You definately get your moneys worth when you buy an iPod.

    The reason why I bought an iPod over any other player?

    Because I didn't really care, and when I went to buy an MP3 player, the only thing I could find was an iPod. If
  • Using [] can give some older or failed (marketing-wise) players new life. Rockbox runs fine on the Gigabeat Fx0 :)
  • ...the article actually means 75c on the dollar, or 3/4 the price that they were originally selling for. Wow, what a bargain, you can get a 2 or 3 years old player for 75% of the original price.

    I must say, I am not very excited.
  • I had many off brand mp3 players, just bought an 8 gig nano for my wife.
    solid, responsive, easy to use, quick to use (scrolling).

    The iTunes software is a bit clunky to get used to, but overall I'd say that it is much nicer than the other mp3 players I've used.

    For only a few dollars less why would I consider wasting my time on an mp3 player that is likely not as good?
  • The iPod enjoys a HUGE ecosystem of accessories. Lots of devices from mini-systems to automobiles support the iPod dock connector - that's powerful.

    One of the criteria for my next car is that it either supports the iPod natively, or it has the ability to have that feature added (i.e - easily replaceable radio).

    I bought an iPod for the accessory ecosystem - and now that I'm and iPod owner, I only buy products from that ecosystem - it's a positive feedback loop.

    That's a big reason why the iPod is so popular.
  • "Hype" ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by noewun (591275) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @08:17AM (#19307979) Journal

    They just couldn't compete under all the iPod hype.

    The fact that a sizeable number of Slashdot posters still think the iPod is successful because of "hype" explains why a sizeable number of Slashdot posters will never be as successful as Steve Jobs.

  • Back in 2002 I bought a Compact Flash based MP3 player. FAT format, looks like a usb drive. cp in linux works. A card reader worked well too. And my camera uses CF cards too. I would still be using it except....

    Fast forward to 2007. I rip *all* my CDs to make a jukebox (~450 and ~ 5000 songs). I decided I want to carry them all for me. It's almost 30GB. So I search for a 40GB+ MP3 player. There are not many choices. Archos looks very cool. An 80GB iPod is cheaper and larger (I don't care about v

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