by Robert Menta 7/08/00
Did the creator of the MP3 portable player called the Moveman bite the dust? We guess you can come to that conclusion when you go their web site and see this message:
That lone link on the page goes to http://www.maxtech.com.hk/, the Korean company that assembled the units and is now left with the inventory.
Maybe it shouldn't come as a surprise. As more and more companies like Phillips, Sony, and RCA enter the MP3 portable arena, and companies like Bose and Nike announce their intentions, the opportunities for a startup like iPlayMP3.com to stand out significantly decrease. It's easy for a small company to drown when confronted with a white noise of the worlds most recognized brand names.
Indeed S3, the maker of the Diamond Rio who hold over half of the market and who are synonymous with the MP3 portables they spearheaded, face a significant erosion of their market from these brands. That is why they have been proactive and are actually designing the units Bose and Nike will soon distribute.
And even thought the likes of Zenith and Panasonic won't enter the field until quite late, they have not only the brand name but the distribution power unavailable to small companies like iPlayMP3.com. After all, have you seen the Moveman in Kmart or Sears? Even the major electronic stores are only now beginning to stock MP3 players, and only a few makes to boot.
Companies like iPlayMP3.com and i2Go and I-Jam rely on the Net to generate much of their sales, but the limitations of E-commerce make it difficult for such products to reach the mass audience at this point. Once all the brand name companies from Aiwa to Zenith come out with a player there is bound to be a shakeup because they will quickly line the shelves of your local department store.
Even more diffficult for these small MP3 manufacturers is money. The brand names have deep pockets and large R&D departments. Meanwhile, capital has dried up on Wall Street for technology startups and it probably isn't a stretch to assume that iPlayMP3, like other startups, thought the money would always flow in when needed. We tried to contact iPlayMp3.com with no luck.
The most disappointing aspect of the Darwinian process that will unfold over the next year or two - iPlayMP3.com has the dubious honor of being the first casualty - is that the Moveman turned out to be a pretty good unit in our review. Players like the Rio 500 and the i2Go eGo are more polished, but the 160MB Moveman package for $400 offered one of the best bangs for the buck in terms of memory capability for the dollar. The Sony Music clip sells for the same money and only offers one third of the memory.
In the Galapagos, having the most efficient beak only goes so far when you can't fly.
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