Thursday, May 3, 2007

Not so Creative

I appreciate the Zune, the Zen, and the Sansa in the MP3 player marketplace. Although I would never buy one, it forces Apple (and everyone else) to make better products, to innovate ahead of the curve. However, the reason I would never buy one, is the other products offer no real incentive, they are lacking the refinement and development. When you are behind the ball, that's all you have. They don't make a better product, and they don't have anything new.

This point is made loud and clear with Creative Lab's new Zen Stone.
If it’s not completely obvious, it is a weak, tardy attempt to get a piece of the micro MP3 player market that Apple is nearly alone in. Make no mistakes about it, this is an iPod Shuffle replica, it's a knockoff, a hack. They try to throw you off the trail by disguising it in a crazy new material and moving the nearly identical navigation circle to the complete opposite side of the device. In my opinion they’re not much different than cheap Korean knock off’s.

The frustrating thing is, having seven months to replicate the Shuffle, Creative Labs still hasn’t been able to improve on it. They weren’t even able to strip it of it’s “smallest MP3 player” title, and it has 2 hrs less battery life. Aesthetics are relative, but we all know it’s not as pretty. It’s better looking than the previous Shuffle, but alas it’s a year and a half late for that. Not to mention you won’t have the array of Shuffle accessories, to keep you from losing your postage stamp player.

If there where any doubts that it is a cheap copy. Creative’s site states:

Choose how you want to listen to your music! Push the dedicated random button for shuffle playback, play your music in the order you like or repeat your favorite song over and over again?
You mean there is a mode that allows me to randomly SHUFFLE the songs on my micro MP3 player? Creative indeed!

Creative chairman and CEO Sim Wong Hoo says (ha-ha "Hoo says"):
The Creative ZEN Stone, at just $39.99, opens up a huge new market for MP3 players. This is an incredible price for everyone to get a superior quality MP3 player capable of holding up to 250 songs.
First of all, please let me know what makes this a superior quality MP3 player. Second, I appreciate the price of MP3 players, and electronics in general dropping. They might as well movie tickets are nearly $10. However Creative hopes to move these not by offering something cooler or different, but by simply underselling the Shuffle. This doesn’t work.

I forgot to mention that Mr Hoo made this statement In January of 2005 when the Shuffle Debuted.
So I think the whole industry will just laugh at it, because the flash people – it’s worse than the cheapest Chinese player. Even the cheap, cheap Chinese brand today has display and has FM.

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