Samsung Galaxy Player 50 aims to take a piece of the portable media player market dominated by the iPod. Is this a threat to Apple's market share?
Apple CEO Steve Jobs used his company's
Oct. 18 earnings call to talk some serious smack about Google Android,
referring to it as "very fragmented" and a "mess." That was
in the context of Android phones and tablets. But now, it seems, Jobs will have
to combat Android in another area: portable media players.
An advertisement for Samsung's Galaxy Player 50-the manufacturer's
accompaniment to its Galaxy S smartphones and Galaxy Tab tablet PC-has been
circulating online. The spot shows the media player running through various
apps: Google Search by Voice, Google Maps, Android Marketplace, camera,
camcorder, Layar augmented-reality browser and radio. The device features an
external speaker-for subjecting anyone in the vicinity to your questionable
choice in music-and WiFi capability.
Blogs such as Samsung Hub have
posted the ad
. In addition, the Galaxy Player 50 is already being offered
for preorder-in 8GB and 16GB versions-by French retailer Materiel.net
According to the latter's Website, the Galaxy Player 50 features Google Android
2.1, a 3.2-inch screen with 400-by-240 resolution, Bluetooth support, a 2-megapixel
camera, and the ability to display a wide variety of video and photo
Materiel.net sells the 8GB version for $276 and the 16GB for $346,
which could hint at a possible price point for when the device migrates to the United
States. The actual date of a stateside
release, however, is still a very open question.
The other question is how well an Android-powered portable media player
would fare against Apple's iPod franchise, which holds a comfortable lead over
other devices currently on the market. In September 2009, Microsoft
released the Zune HD
, with features including a 3.3-inch touch screen, WiFi
capability, an integrated HD radio receiver and high-definition video output
for watching 720p content. Despite generally strong reviews, though, the device
failed to gain marketplace traction.
Even as Zune HD's software and design template found themselves integrated
into Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, the company has (thus far) declined to
refresh the device itself. That may be an indicator of how Microsoft sees its
fortunes in the dedicated media player space, where the Zune HD failed to climb
its market share out of the proverbial weeds.
But could an Android device perform better?
Android has certainly been scoring some impressive gains in the smartphone
market. According to new statistics from Nielsen, Android handsets have made up
some 32 percent of all smartphones sold in the last six months, outpacing both
Research In Motion's BlackBerry and the Apple iPhone. Those numbers, however,
account for the period between January 2010 and August 2010, which itself
includes only one month of iPhone 4 sales.
Nielsen pegged BlackBerry's share of the total U.S.
smartphone market at 31 percent, followed by Apple with 28 percent and Android
with 19 percent. Despite that third-place finish, a recent note from research
firm Gartner suggested that Android will rank second in global mobile operating
system share, behind Symbian but ahead of both BlackBerry and iOS.
During Apple's Oct. 18 earnings call, Jobs claimed that Apple's App Store,
which feeds content to all the company's mobile devices, "offers users the
easiest to use, largest app store in the world." The online storefront, he
claimed, features "over three times as many apps as Google's marketplace,
and offers developers one-stop shopping to get their apps to market easily, and
get paid swiftly."
Given how mobile devices-both music players like the iPod and
smartphones-have evolved into handheld app launchers as much as phones or music
players, it's hard to underestimate the value of a centralized and finely tuned
app store. Yet Android market share has climbed despite Jobs' claims about the
size of its Marketplace and overall fragmentation.
One of the reasons for Android's rapid ascent has been the sheer number of
devices entering the marketplace. That same proliferation hasn't happened on
the portable media player side of the equation, but if the Samsung Galaxy
Player 50 is the first of many devices, what happened in the smartphone realm
could conceivably begin to replicate itself in media players. And then Apple,
despite having recently refreshed its iPod line, will have yet another battle
royale on its hands.