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Is it really design?

"But that only gets you so far, as Creative, makers of the unloved ZEN MP3 players, are learning the hard way. Despite having products that are better than the iPod by just about every reasonable metric, they are unable to even come close to Apple iPod's dominant market share. They're cheaper. They have more memory. They support more file formats. Etc. Doesn't matter: they still have single-digit market share while iPod is probably in the 80s somewhere."

Is this really about design? Go ask any iPod user why they bought an iPod instead of a Creative Zen. I'm betting the responses will be:
10% I like the styling better
90% Creative what?

Is it truly a choice of iPod over the design of the Zen? Or is it about Apple bombarding the airwaves with iPod ads?

Philo
Philo Send private email
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
Yep, its 90% marketing muscle.

However, sometimes no matter how much money you spend no one will ever buy it, but that's usually because no one wants anything like whatever it is, generally you can buy market share.  It's what you do after you've got that market share that matters, ie delivery.
Simon Lucy Send private email
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
> 90% Creative what?

Exactly.  It's because everyone is buying one.

Funny I could say the same thing about the OS your company sells Philo! :-)
Bill Rushmore Send private email
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
"However, sometimes no matter how much money you spend no one will ever buy it, but that's usually because no one wants anything like whatever it is, generally you can buy market share.  It's what you do after you've got that market share that matters, ie delivery. "

Marketing is only one aspect.  The other aspect is building a buisness around the product.

Many folks starting an ISV focus on the product or opportunity rather than investing the time in designing the business around the product or opportunity.

"Is it really design?"  NOPE!  It's about playing the game at a different level.  It's like the difference between park basketball, high school basketball, college basketball, and the NBA.
Eric (another ISV guy with his company)
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
Playing the game at a different level...

Apple and Microsoft play the game at a different level than ISVs.  This is why the iPOD outsells the Zend.  I don't mean to imply that Zend is an ISVish thing but they are not playing the same game as Apple is!

I was part of a rowing crew all through highschool.  I rowed in what was called a light weight 8.  That's 9 guys in a boat all between 140 and 160 lbs; 8 rowers plus a cox equals 9.  I was about 155 lbs and very fit.  We were a traveling team.  In my senior year we won the opportunity to row in Culver Indianna against one of the most prestegious rowing crews in the world.  It was a chance for aspiring highschool rowers to see how the pros rowed.

On the last day we got the chance to row against the pros in our weight class.

This was my first rude awakening -- trying to keep up with professional rowing crew.  In rowing it's about speed and technique. It was a major ass whooping for me and my team.  After the gun went off, they pulled away from us like we stood still. It felt like we were chasing a missle as it quickly moved further ahead of us with each stroke. Their boat and ours were the same weight class.  The guys in both boats were the same size, build, and within the same weight class. But after racing them, I realized the difference was not physical. It was drive. They had the heart, the desire, and gift of natural talent to be a great rowing crew. In rowing, like business, team work is highly promoted.

The lesson I learned that day is that both teams played the same game, but we were not playing at the same level of play. The same is true in the business world and the game of ISVs. We can all be entrepreneurs. Being an entrepreneur is not that big a deal. A better question to be asked in designing a business is, "At what level of play do you want to play the game?"
Eric (another ISV guy with his company)
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
Funny how everyone is quick to say that the iPod's competitors have better functionality. They don't. Last year I bought a Creative Zen Touch 20GB MP3 player. This player uses a touch-sensitive strip for navigation. It was terrible; while sliding across the strip you keep having to pick up your finger once you reach the bottom and start again at the top.

I returned the Zen Touch and bought an iPod instead. The iPod'd touch wheel is, of course, circular. This means that you can navigate forwards and backwards as much as you want without having to lift your finger. Also, the "action" button is in the middle, which means it's always the same distance from your finger. This isn't just beautiful design; it's extremely functional.
Oren Hurvitz Send private email
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
I was under the impresson that both creative and apple spent approximately 100 million on advertising over the last year.
Lou Send private email
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
Oren,

We, geeks, no that and understand exactly what you are saying.  But, again, the question "Is it really design?" is no.  It's definitly not the "design" although design as an impact.

I am willing to bet that if you took a poll on users buying iPODs that less than 50% of them know what a Zen is or if they do, if they know the differences as you describe them.

It's how you play the game!  As in at what level you play at.  Are you going to play at the Apple level or the Creative level?
Eric (another ISV guy with his company)
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
+1 to Bill Rushmore

Remember back in 1994/95 when Microsoft had those TV commercials for Windows 95 with the annoying Rolling Stones song "Start Me Up"?
vic
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
To Vic:

The part about the Stones Windows 95 theme was "You make a grown man cry."

Still viable today.
Rob Brueckner Send private email
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
If Creative actually has a spend of $100 million then they're spending it in the wrong place.

Ask 25 random people in the street whether they've ever heard of the brand Creative and then ask them to name or describe any kind of product with that brand.  Then show them a range of products made by them and others and see if they pick out a real one.

Ask them at the same time if they've heard of Apple...
Simon Lucy Send private email
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
I don't think I've _ever_ seen an ad for a Creative device. I only know they exist because of the crappy displays they have in Best Buy and similar techno-crap stores.
Stephen Caldwell Send private email
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
Steve Jobs and friends have been around the block. They've seen their share - maybe more - of failures (Newton, anyone?). One thing they have is an intuitive smell for when a product has clicked in its market. It's not easy to predict when that will happen beforehand. But when it does, they are prepared for a full-blown mass marketing blitz. When it doesn't (like the ROCKR/Motorola failure), they're able to cut their losses quickly and move on.

Creative doesn't have that feel - they confused market share (they had over 50% before iPod came along) with market penetration and thought they were being successful but that false perception prevented them from innovating their product more.
Spinoza Send private email
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
It is at least in part due to design. The iPod user interface is relatively simple, easy to use, and has a nice "feel" due to the scroll wheel smoothness and click sounds. Many of the other players have clunkier controls; because of this, they're less compelling to hold and use.
John
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
That's the case in North American only.

In asia other brands (iRiver) are quite popular.
Rick Tang Send private email
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
Example of great design and a total kick-ass great concept:

www.orb.com
Eric (another ISV guy with his company)
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
It's simple.

The crowds chooses Microsoft software because that is the power of the market collective - to make rational choices.

And the exact same crowds chose Apple music players because they are dumb lemmings, chasing after the latest fashion fad.
Art Wilkins
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
its the plastic...u pay more for pretty plastic.
Lemon Obrien from portable Send private email
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
The Creative "what?" is butt ugly. It looks like one of those robots on "Silent Running" (R2D2's great great grandfather or sumpdin).
hoser Send private email
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
It's the dial and the responsiveness, at least for me.  Apple players are the only ones to go above 'absolute minimum necessary' in creating their software.  Where else can you flip through your files at a faster pace than "press and let go, wait for screen update, wait for scrolling text--oops, wrong song.  Press and let go, wait ...?"

I purchased a car radio with MP3 support recently, and as I looked through the entire pile, not one has a responsive or (reasonably) helpful interface.  It's all crap.


So yes, for me it's the design. 

Also, it doesn't hurt that Apple gets oodles and oodles of dollars worth of free press, which they may or may not deserve.
pds Send private email
Thursday, February 02, 2006
 
 
Eric (another ISV guy with his company)
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
 
 

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