Walt Mossberg on Challengers to the iPod

*Three Challengers Take on the Mini*
Latest ‘iPod Killers’ Score
On Style and Storage Space,
But They Aren’t Easy to Use
October 27, 2004; Page D1
One of the key reasons for the continuing popularity of Apple Computer’s line of iPod music players has been the little iPod Mini, an ultra small and slim version of the player that comes in five stylish colors. The $249 Mini holds just 1,000 songs, versus up to 10,000 for the regular iPod, and is relatively pricey — just $50 less than a larger iPod that holds five times as much. But it has proved so popular, especially with women and teenagers, that Apple has had trouble keeping it on store shelves.
Now, multiple competitors, having failed to dent sales of the main iPod, are taking aim at the Mini. In fact, some manufacturers believe the majority of the market for portable hard-disk based music players will shift during the next few years to lower-capacity, mini-size players.
The theory is that most people don’t need to carry more than 1,000 songs or so, and will flock to lower-price, smaller devices. Some speculate that the higher-capacity iPods, and similar full-size players, will be left to hard-core music lovers. So the new battle over the Mini is a big deal.
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