New Digital Music Player Not Just An iPod-Light
from the for-the-lazy-people dept
Plenty of companies have tried to break the iPods’s stranglehold on the digital music player market, but so far none have come even close. Part of the reason may be that all of the alternatives are just iPod wannabes that don’t offer anything unique. Without offering something original, it’s just too difficult to get past the iPod lock in as well as its ecosystem of related products and services. The latest entrant in the space at least deserves credit for trying something new. Slacker is a digital music player that basically offers the user a personalized radio station. This is a concept that should be familiar to anyone who uses Last.FM or Pandora. Using WiFi and satellites, the Slacker device will constantly play new music, and it will adjust what it plays based on user preferences. So, for example, a user can ban a song from ever being played again if they really don’t like it. Conversely, if the listener indicates that they really like a song, then the service will find more songs like that one. This is interesting, but achieving mass adoption is going to prove really difficult. For one thing, current iPod users are unlikely to make the switch, since the device isn’t intended to play a user’s music collection (and DRM might make that switch impossible anyway). So the Slacker is hoping that there’s a large pool of people out there that want a portable music device, but are too lazy to come up with their own playlists. In fact, it’s called Slacker specifically because its targeting the lazy crowd. But it’s a big assumption to think that the people who aren’t using iPods (or other MP3 players) are just lazy, and want a service to stream their music for them. The company’s other idea is to license the service to other devices, such as phones or possibly cars. This is a more promising strategy than trying to build a new gadget. There are plenty of people who might want to take a service like Last.FM out on the road, but aren’t interested in shelling out a few hundred dollars for a specialized device. If that option were on a phone, however, perhaps for a monthly fee, it could prove rather appealing. As with many other companies, the challenge for Slacker will be to position itself as a platform, not just a product.