Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Tim Bajarin: Samsung to Spend Millions to Try and Gain Marketshare in MP3 Players

Tim Bajarin at Creative Strategies posts about Samsung's efforts to increase its marketing to "aggressively try and take market share away from Apple in the area of portable music players" at the Technology Pundits blog. Bajarin sums up Samsung's chances nicely in these two paragraphs:

Samsung can spend millions more going after this market for portable music players and they will be just as unsuccessful this year as they were in the last one. And that goes for Creative Labs, Dell and any other of the major players that are hoping to win more market share in this very large market for portable MP3 players. While they all are making strides in the area of industrial design, they do not offer the one thing that Apple does that has become the real selling point for Apple when it comes to making their iPOD the number one player on the market.

Apple is not selling the consumer a “music player,” per se. Rather, Apple is selling the customer a simple integrated solution that includes three key components. The first, and perhaps the most important, is ease of use, ease of purchase and ease of transferring and syncing content from the computer to the player itself. The second is the device itself that has won awards and earned its designer, Jonathan Ives, a commendation from the Queen of England as well as kudos from peers and customers alike. And third, a music store that is innovative, extremely simple to use and constantly gaining access to new content such as podcasts and TV shows, thus making it the best one stop digital content store on the market today. That is why Apple has over 40 million iPods in the market today and sold 14 million iPods last quarter alone. We believe Apple will sell at least another 30+ million new iPods in 2006. And, the new inclusion of Intel chips inside will help them attract more new users to the Mac platform, which could help them gain as much as 3 points of market share over the next two years. At this point in time, we see no other company or player coming close to providing Apple’s complete integrated solution and being able to take any serious market share away from Apple anytime soon.
Bajarin doesn't think Apple's lead will necessarily last but also doesn't think the competition will make any headway unless they can "figure out how to create a seamless integrated experience that equals Apple’s." He points out that Microsoft is getting closer, but "there is still a serious disconnect coming from the hardware vendors that hobbles Microsoft’s approach." He says:
Apple’s real genius with the iPOD integrated solution lies in the single user interface on the device itself and how well it maps to the actual software experience within the iTunes environment. On the other hand, everyone of Microsoft’s hardware partners have their own view of what the physical user interface should be on their devices and rely completely on Microsoft’s UI on Urge and Vongo to map directly to these disparate devices themselves. The result is a less then stellar user experience from Apple’s competitors.
Bajarin then goes on to write more about Microsft and Sony as potential pretenders to Apple's throne, but in the end comes to the same conclusion, "we believe Apple’s position in the portable music and video player market should remain strong and keep them well above a 70% market share for sometime to come."