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Samsung Steals the Brain Behind the iPod 334

Posted by Zonk
from the mmmm-delicious-brains dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times reports that Samsung has hired the same programming genius who helped make the iPod so great to design its own music player. They imply that the new Samsung device is just as innovative." From the article: "Samsung's choice of Mr. Mercer also shows how much consumer electronics now rely on the powerful computing capabilities that defined personal computers two decades ago. Samsung is betting that it can win a share of the music market dominated by Apple by using new software that mimics what is found in powerful PC's. The Z5, shaped like a stick of gum, has a 1.8-inch color screen and a 35-hour battery life, and is priced at $199 to $249 to compete with the iPod Nano, which costs $149 to $249. Early reviews have been positive, and Samsung is hoping that the Z5 will work smoothly with the range of subscription music services that support the Microsoft PlaysForSure digital music standard."
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Samsung Steals the Brain Behind the iPod

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  • neatish kinda (Score:4, Interesting)

    by akhomerun (893103) on Monday February 27, 2006 @07:04AM (#14807357)
    this is probably going to a great MP3 player.

    but since it's not Apple, it's not going to really sell well at all. Plays For Sure doesn't really get you anywhere, either. The device will only sell well if it truly is a good device and is marketed.

    If I remember right, Samsung really wanted to make it big in the MP3 market. They had some statement a while ago saying they wanted to eventually be in Apple's position. This kind of stuff makes me think they truly are serious, but what they don't understand is that you can't just follow if you want to control a market, you absolutely have to lead.
  • by bbzzdd (769894) on Monday February 27, 2006 @07:20AM (#14807391)

    ...it's not an iPod. It's like at Christmas getting a cheap Korean knockoff of the year's hot item. To beat the iPod you have to leapfrog it not clone it.

  • Taint? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cortana (588495) <{sam} {at} {robots.org.uk}> on Monday February 27, 2006 @07:33AM (#14807434) Homepage
    Will he not be tainted by having had access to (and, in fact, creating) so much of Apple's intellectual 'property'?
  • by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman AT gmail DOT com> on Monday February 27, 2006 @08:10AM (#14807561) Homepage Journal
    He's probably doing what's he's always been doing: Laughing all the way to the bank.

    Samsung's hiring of the same designer is nothing more than marketing hype. What Samsung hopes the public fails to realize, is that Steve Jobs is the guy who made the iPod what it is. PortalPlayer (the design company) actually delivered many iterations of the iPod that was much different from the final product. Each time, Jobs sent the device back with a laundry list of things wrong with it. Stuff that seemed completely out of place (e.g. extra bass boost because Jobs was slightly deaf) went into the design. PortalPlayer thought it was going to flop horribly after all the demands that Jobs had made. It was quite a shock to them when the iPod grabbed the market overnight.

    So I would take this story with a grain of salt. If Samsung doesn't realize that they've got a cat in the bag, they will soon enough.

    [Reference Article] [wired.com]
  • by aisnota (98420) on Monday February 27, 2006 @09:49AM (#14808082) Homepage

    > He didn't do the grunt work on it, but I don't think there's much question that the iPod is Jobs' creation at least as much as anyone else's.

    Bingo, it is like his baby, he made sure it worked for him. Every iPod you buy has been refined by someone that gave a damn, maybe selfishly or maybe for you, but you still get the benefit!

    Jobs is Quality Assurance incarnate.

    Wozniak also chips in his two cents worth:
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM .20060223.wxapple0223/BNStory/Front/home [theglobeandmail.com]

    --

  • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Monday February 27, 2006 @01:06PM (#14810004)
    Stuff that seemed completely out of place (e.g. extra bass boost because Jobs was slightly deaf) went into the design

    I doubt Jobs' specific hearing problems had anything to do with that decision.

    Take a look at any consumer audio product built in the last 20 years; chances are it has some sort of "Super Mega Bass Boost" function available on it (low-end shelftop units in particular embrace this feature).

    People tend to think that audio with overemphasized low frequencies sounds fuller and louder, and therefore better, than well-equalized, true-to-life audio. Stereo manufacturers, Apple included, are simply giving the public what the public believes it wants.

  • by MacDork (560499) on Monday February 27, 2006 @08:23PM (#14813601) Journal
    The reason the iPod does so well has a lot to do with compatibility. iTunes.app runs Windows and Mac. That is key. Before iTunes was ported, MusicMatch was the client for Windows. It sucked monkey balls, and as a result, the iPod was mainly a Mac user thing. I knew a few Windows people who owned them, but they all had problems because of the software-hardware interface. When iTunes.app was ported, the change was instant. People started buying iPods and music from iTMS in droves. The iPod became the MP3 player to have. So, does Samsunk have a decent app to go with that neat little player of theirs? Probably not.

    You also have to consider the iPod as a platform. With so many people owning so many tunes encrypted with Fairplay, you're absolutely sunk in trying to get those folks to convert. Unless your player is twice as nice at half the price, your player must be compatible with Fairplay or else all those tunes must be purchased again, adding to the expense of the switch. Apple has faced this for all its history with the Mac OS, because even if their offering was better, switchers would be required to buy all new software to make the change. Hence no flood of switchers.

    Since there's no way to offer twice as nice at half the price without eating a huge portion of the cost yourself, you must have Fairplay. That's why the RIAA wants Apple to license it, and that's why Apple will not. Finally, and most ironically, the very law that the RIAA and friends put into place in 1998 (DMCA) to maintain their iron grip on their music distribution monopoly is the key reason why the RIAA cannot simply reverse engineer Fairplay and retain their control of music distribution now. They've even started to consider unencrypted file schemes like watermarking so they can break Apple's lock on online music distribution. Of course, these schemes will ultimately fail, and the law they bought and paid for will be their own undoing.

    Oh, and the final nail in the RIAA's coffin? Any band [tunecore.com] can get an album up on iTMS for about 20 bucks. Bands no longer have to give up their copyrights. They no longer have to sign terrible contracts or pay off million dollar loans. They no longer have to give up creative control and push to put out mediocre music to make quarterly numbers for some corporation. They just have to do what they like to do: Make music. Does Samsunk have all that in place? Nope.

    It's beautiful. The RIAA labels are toast :-) Thank you Apple! Those guys deserve to wither and fade away after suing children and generally making an ass out of themselves at every opportunity. You've done us all a great favor. And to think... who would have ever believed, when the Beetles first sued Apple, that Apple really would become a record label :-D It's priceless.

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