Samsung, Microsoft Challenge Apple’s iPod
Korean Electronics Giant Planning to Unveil YP-K5 in Berlin; MS Will Push for Zune This Year
By Cho Jin-seo
Staff Reporter(The Korea Times)
Samsung Electronics and Microsoft are introducing new digital music players to the market with ambitions to challenge the years-long dominancy of Apple’s iPod.
Samsung said it will unveil the YP-K5 player at the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin on Sept. 1. The company has tried to keep it a secret, but photos and technical details were leaked through its German subsidiary’s Web site last week, which it claims were a mistake.
Microsoft is also to release an MP3 player named Zune within this year. The firm is investing ``hundreds of millions of dollars’’ over the next few years to overthrow Apple’s iPod player and iTunes music store, Robbie Bach, the company’s president of its entertainment and devices division, said last month.
According to market researcher NPD Group, Apple held 75.6 percent of the digital music player market in the United States in the second quarter of the year. Samsung was only the fourth-largest seller with a mere 2.5 percent share after SanDisk and Creative. Microsoft has not sold a music player before.
Samsung admitted on Monday that it is releasing the product with keen anticipation. It also said that the leak was accidental and it can’t provide more details until Sept. 1.
``The information was displayed on the German Web site for a while and it spread over various blog sites,’’ said Kim Se-hoon, Samsung’s spokesperson. Kim also hinted that the new product would be released outside of Korea first, as was the Q1 mini-PC.
According to the data, the YP-K5 player has a sleek box-shaped design and is available in 1 gigabyte, 2 gigabyte or 4 gigabyte capacities. The most noticeable features are a touch-sensitive control pad and a slide-out speaker the size of the device itself.
The touch pad control looks like the one used on LG Electronics’ Chocolate Phone series, except that the K5 has a blue glow, the corporate color of Samsung.
As in Samsung’s other music players, K5 supports various file types such as MP3, Ogg, ASF and WMA, and has an FM radio tuner inside. There are also rumors that it is wirelessly connected to a headset.
An LG Electronics’ MP3 marketing manager said that the new Samsung player may have a shot at iPod.
``It has clear advantages over Apple in terms of hardware design and specs, but it still lacks management applications like iTunes,’’ he said on the condition of anonymity. ``I expect that Samsung will try to compensate for this weak point by loading more technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless network capabilities. ’’
Microsoft’s Zune player is also expected to come within this year, as a photo of a black prototype model has been circulating on its Web since last month.
The photos show that the Zune resembles the iPod, while it possibly has a Wi-Fi wireless network connection.