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8.24.2006 

Creative: Made for iPod

Yesterday's announcement that Apple and Creative are settling their suit was good news for both companies. For Apple, it ended an annoyance and settled uncertainty regarding future patent litigation. For Creative, it provided a much-needed cash infusion. It seems like a win-win. And I guess maybe it is, although in some respects Creative's patent trolling resulted in a payday while all Apple got to do was to swat a very expensive fly.

But that's just on the surface.

Ultimately, the real winner is Apple. $100 million is chump change for a company with a $58 billion market cap and thick gooey gobs of cash on hand. But more to the point THE STEVE'S chief rival in the MP3 player market was just forced to stand up and publicly declare its intention to become Apple's bitch.

Last sentence, first graf of Apple's press release: In addition, the companies announced that Creative has joined Apple's "Made for iPod" program and will be announcing their own iPod accessory products later this year.

Can you imagine, say, Ford ending a suit with Honda byannouncingg that it's going to make after-market accessories for the Accord? Pepsi starting to sell Coca-Colatchotchkiess? Microsoft developing for the Mac? (oh. wait.)

One of the iPod's greatest strengths is the market in accessories. Want a choice of cases? Get an iPod. Want a stereo that works with your player? Get an iPod. Want a car connector that will play your MP3s and charge your device? Get an iPod.

By selling "Made for iPod" accessories Creative is helping to sell iPods. Not only that, but for every gadget it sells with the Made for iPod logo, Creative will have to kick some cash back to Apple.

And as to their own Creative MP3 players? They're out. They're done. Fuck you; take your ball and go home. Maybe not right away, but when you actively begin promoting your competitor's product, while your own business is in the shitter, it's not a sign that you intend to continue business as usual.

I remember the very first Creative Nomad jukebox. It was a sea-change. But I also remember the very first MP3 player on the market, the PMP 300 from Rio. (Hell, I owned it.) That was not only a sea change, it was a revolution. And look where Rio is today.

I get to use a lot of MP3 players. And the thing is, Creative's suck. How they've remained number two is beyond me. And I'm not a complete iPod snob. I own two iRiver players, one of which I use all the time (though, in all fairness, mostly for recording.) I played with that new hot shit SanDisk player last week and it is phenomenal.

That is. On its own.

It's phenomenal on its own. And ultimately, all the other manufacturers are selling products that must stand on their own. While the iPod, on the other hand, stands with (first and foremost) the iTunes Music Store, Nike, Honda, Bose, CBS, Gucci, Denon, BMW, Disney, MTV, Belkin, Altec Lansing, JBL, Kate Spade, Levi's, Jeep, and, now, Creative.

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  • hi, i'm mat honan, a writer in san francisco, california.
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