just goes to show the best product doesnt always win - same is true with the ipod, there were better options at the time.
Of course YMMV and opinions and all but... I have to disgree on this. I had dozens of mp3 players starting with the initial Diamond PMP300, which is usually considered the 2nd commercial mp3 player. This was followed by several more Rio devices, then some no-name stuff that used various memory card technologies.. eventually I had a couple CD-mp3 players and even a Creative Nomad HDD player (good lord the UX on that thing was horrible!). Then in 2003 or so I tried an ipod, and I never looked back. The UI/UX on the ipod was miles above every other player I'd had. Also while some people decry the use of itunes and prefer just dumping files directly onto the memory card/player, I found I hated those ways. I often ran into issues with the older FAT filesystems on them and files per directory limits and had to script up annoyingly dumb scripts to break the files up into subdirs. With the ipod/itunes it was done for me, or I could limit what I wanted to copy via playlists and the like. Rather than me having to take care of my device, it just worked as designed with a simple interface on the computer via itunes.
Once I eventually got an iphone (3g I think was my first) I found I no longer needed the separate ipod anymore and have stuck with iphones since.
BTW, I'm actually curious what you think which mp3 players were better options during the first few years the ipod was out.