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.

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Comments on “New Digital Music Player Not Just An iPod-Light”

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Blaise (user link) says:

Not Enough

I don’t think the majority of people would be interested in a product like this as a replacement for an iPod-like device. People like new music, some more than others, but there are times that you want to discover something new, and other times that you want to listen to something you love. I mean, listening to new music is most often not your primary goal/purpose/activity.. I think most people listen to new music in order to hopefully add more music to the list of music they love and are familiar with. A large part of music listening is about the regular stuff.. people like to be able to hum along with their favourite tunes, to sing back some of the lyrics, etc. Even when people listen to the radio, they’re often excited if their favourite song comes on.

I am a user of both and, but neither of these services have displaced my use of my iPod to digitize my music collection. Sometimes I’ll be interested in discovering new music, but when I really want to listen to something to relax or have some nice background music, I usually pick something I’m familiar with.. a playlist that I know I will like, where I know exactly what is on it.

I guess the device would not necessarily be playing new music all the time (I often encounter music I know from or pandora), but those services, from my experience, are usually much better for exploring new music than they are for simply enjoying music in a passive or reflective way.

Uncle Deercamp (user link) says:


Pandora was great for about 15 minutes. Then their DRM kicks in. You can only skip so many songs before it stomps it’s foot on the ground and says that you’re not playing fairly. This little player will be just about as cool as that.

And who are they trying to appeal to? Folks that are too lazy to make a playlist? Their market research must have been conducted by slackers too. Anyone that lazy won’t have the money to buy one of these things.

Unless they steal it from their mom’s purse.

PopeRatzo says:

Sounds great to me

I love this idea. If they can get the players below $150, I’ll buy one for sure. I’m not so arrogant as to think I know of all the music in the world that I would like. I love being surprised, and ever since FM radio stopped letting DJs play their own music, there’s been absolutely nothing surprising or interesting about radio.

Crysm says:

For the lazy?

It occurs to me that anyone who’s too lazy to organize a playlist probably isn’t going to want to have to spend time programming their music player to essentially generate playlists for them. I’m one of those people, and I can’t even be bothered to rate my own music in media players, mostly due to the lack of portability in those ratings, but also because of the sheer volume of my library. I load whatever I want to hear, and if I’m not in the mood to listen to it for the next 6 months, so be it; I won’t.

tehrani625 says:

Do your home work

the device will be betwean $149-$299 then the premieum service for internet not only used on the device but the software for the computer will be about $8 a month not sure what the stelight fees will be it will be more friendly to windows formats for video and audio then mac WMA, WMV, MPG-4 and MP-3 there will be a 4″ screen for viewing information about the artist and the song you also have a personal library so that songs that you load on can be played from their and songs that you “heart” can also be their I’m not sure how you will play back the marked sogs or if they just end up getting thrown in when deamed appriate and if your not paying for the service then you will have adds and can only not like up to 8 songs an hour pandora only alowes you to SKIP a # of songs per hour I hope that you have injoyed my inability to use gramer and don’t waste time to bash me because I will probibly never look at this again.

Enrico Suarve (user link) says:

Sounds good to me

I don’t think this is a case of lazy vs hard-working

Based on the comments in this post I’ve just ‘discovered’ Pandora and Last.FM – Pandora wouldn’t let me play as I’m not in the US and I couldn’t be bothered fiddling around

Last.FM has been keeping me amused all afternoon – thanks guys (really thanks i’m loving it – feel free to take the piss out of me for not hearing of it before)

The concept seems great, yes I can organise a playlist (I have several) but even I am not arrogant enough to assume I know all songs there are. I’ve discovered several this afternoon I’d never heard of and hearted them – so far the sites sucess rate is about 70% hearts, 90% listenable no bans

If the solution here is basically a mobile version of this (which I think it is) bring it on – depending on how well implemented this is it could be ace

Davin Peterson says:

Creative's Zen Vision:M kills iPod

Creative’s Zen Vision:M kills iPod. The ZVM is the true video player at 262,000 colors vs. iPod’s 62,000 colors. It also has a built-in FM Radio that allows you to record radio as well. It also includes a built-in Microphone for voice recording. It looks like the iPod, because Apple stole their GUI and unfairly profits from it, leaving Creative to suffer.

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