South Korea company launches new digital music player to target Mini iPod
SEOUL (AFP) - ReignCom, a South Korean pioneer in digital music players, released a new device to challenge the iPod Mini, one of the world's best-selling products from US electronics giant Apple.
ReignCom's new music player, called the iRiver H10, is similar to Apple's in features and designs -- the rectangular shape with a one-inch hard-disc drive inside and almost the same size.
However, the iRiver has extras the iPod does not, like a 1.5-inch color display screen, higher capacity storage and a longer playing time.
The H10 is capable of storing five gigabytes of music files, compared with the Mini's four-gigabyte hard disk.
The Mini features a 1.67-inch gray screen above a circular control dial and a removable eight-hour battery, while the H10 offers a 12-hour battery, a built-in FM radio receiver and a voice recorder.
Key distinctions come in the use of touch scroll controls that permit the H10 to store, download and find songs easier and faster than the Mini which uses touch pad controls, according to the manufacturer.
At 363,000 won (342 dollars), however, the H10 costs about 10 percent more than the Mini.
"The H10 is our first hard-disk player to challenge the Mini," ReignCom spokesman Kim Dong-Hwan said. "What differentiates our device from the Mini is the better level of functionality."
ReignCom plans to release the H10 in the United States next month.
"The iPod is cheaper than the H10 but we turned our attention to developing a device with a comfortable user interface to attract customers," Kim said.
Trying to compete with the iPod on price would not sway US consumers, he said, adding ReignCom would step up efforts to boost its brand recognition abroad.
Flash-memory music players accounted 60 percent of the world market last year but the market for hard disk based devices has increased rapidly with its advantage in storage capacity and a steady drop in hard-disc prices.
With its popular iRiver series using flash-memory chips, ReignCom is the world's second-largest digital music player maker after Apple, which was the first company to use a hard disk for data storage.
Analysts say Apple's market share seems in no danger of shrinking anytime soon. Nonetheless, ReignCom hopes to increase its share in the global hard-disc market from six percent this year to 15 percent in 2005.
i always thought iRiver made excellent products and thought the iPod mini was crap, just marketed really well. back in the day when CD/MP3 players were hot, iRiver had the best ones. iRiver came out with the first HDD-based MP3 players with a color screen and can display photos (which apple later copied). yeah, they look uglier, but they definitely have better features.