The mobile phone and tablet markets are ripe battlegrounds for Android-based gadgets to make their mark. Apple is the leader but not by a huge margin. Some predict that Android will explode in 2011. There is little doubt that Apple has its hands full trying to maintain its dominance in these areas, but at least they have the app-driven, WiFi-connected MP3 player market locked down with the iPod touch, right?
Maybe not. We’ll find out more after CES.
It is hard to imagine that the niche that lies somewhere between iPod and iPhone could have room for more players, but that’s exactly what Samsung is banking on as they unleash the latest version of the Galaxy Player at the Consumer Electronic Show next week. Some are asking if it’s the first true competitor to the touch.
iPod is THE Non-Phone Handheld
Pass me a Kleenex and get me a Starbucks, because that’s where the iPod Touch is when it comes to this niche. If you were to ask anyone what is out there for those who want to play music, have fully-functional apps, camera, GPS, and WiFi connections on a hand-held device without paying a monthly subscription for voice and data services, they would all say iPod Touch. There would be no exceptions.
It has embedded itself in our culture as the only device of its kind worth noting. Based upon the specs, Samsung has put together a truly comparable device, but the specs are where the comparisons can stop. Unless they sink a ton of money into marketing the device (which they won’t), no average Joe is ever going to hear about or consider it because the iPod Touch has achieved Kleenex/Starbucks status in the niche.
A Status Symbol vs A Wannabe
Nobody wants to be considered a “wannabe” – someone or something that is a cheap and less powerful alternative to the real thing. Unfortunately, as fast as Android is growing, in this particular market it can be nothing but a wannabe.
When kids and adults across the land opened their Christmas presents last weekend to find an iPod Touch, they were thrilled and proud to have it. It’s something that they pictured themselves using, showing off to their friends, and treasuring for years to come. They thought of who to hit up on Facetime first, which songs were going to blast from it and into their headphones, and what apps they had heard of that they wanted to install immediately.
And then, it came down to who they were going to show first. And then next. And after that.
The iPod touch is a status symbol amongst teens and geeks alike. It says that you spent a lot of money on a music player that can do more than anyone else’s. It means that you’re a serious geek (in a good way) who takes music and hand-held fun seriously.
The Samsung Galaxy Player and any other that comes along for the foreseeable future mean less. Upon showing it to friends, they’ll ask, “Why didn’t you get a Touch?”
Despite the reality that it’s probably a very comparable device (perhaps even superior) it will still have that generic-brand feel, like getting the Kroger’s Peanut Butter Puffs cereal rather than spending money for real peanut butter Cap’n Crunch.
Phones and Tablets and Hand-Helds, Oh My!
A year ago, the Galaxy Player may have stood a chance simply because there were fewer options. Google messed that up by not being open enough on the Android Marketplace, thus declawing any potential iPod Touch competitors. Now that they have opened up, it’s too little, too late.
The tablet and smartphone markets are growing and are ripe battlegrounds for Android-based devices to challenge Apple. Unfortunately for everyone other than Apple, that means the “tweener” market that lies somewhere in between just isn’t going to be big enough for another player.
We’re not saying that Samsung won’t be able to sell a bunch of these. Any speculation is simply speculation until CES and beyond. They have done a tremendous job pushing the Galaxy brand in the phone and tablet markets and have had moderate success, but this is one area where they will simply take what they can get from Apple’s scraps and move on down the road.
That’s probably what they expect to do. They just aren’t telling anyone.