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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 January 2006, 08:28 GMT
Rivals to take bite out of Apple
By Alfred Hermida
Technology editor, BBC News website in Las Vegas

MP3 players
The Consumer Electronics Show ends on Sunday
Gadget-makers seeking to rival Apple's iPod have been showcasing their gizmos in Las Vegas.

Dozens of audio and video players of all descriptions are everywhere to be seen at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

They range from devices with big hard drives capable of holding thousands of songs to sleek thin models.

Americans spent $3bn last year on gadgets so they could listen to music on the go.

Over the coming 12 months, they are forecast to spend $4.5bn on MP3 players, according to figures provided by the CES organisers.

Thick and thin

With more people putting these desires on their wish lists, a raft of manufacturers are looking to mount a serious challenge to the best-selling iPod.

Among those taking Apple head on is Sandisk. The company, which is better known for making memory cards, has launched a slim, lightweight iPod nano clone.

Creative Zen
Creative's player was chosen as best gizmo at CES by website Cnet.

But it is going one better than Apple, offering its Sansa e200 which can hold up to six gigabytes of songs or video.

"Music is an incredibly important part of the digital lifestyle, where the emphasis is on accessibility of music, styling and ruggedness on the go," said Sandisk's Eric Bone.

Others are looking to offer up to 30GB. South Korea's Samsung has its YM-P1 player, while Singapore's Creative Labs has its Zen Vision: M.

Both devices hold 30GB and play video, as well as audio.

Creative's player was chosen as best gizmo at CES by technology site Cnet.

The Singapore-based company has also taken the battle with Apple to software, launching an initial version of software to organise podcasts.

"It's another way to aggregate content," said a Creative spokesperson. "A lot of people have Zen players which are not compatible with iTunes."

Just accessorise

At least 30 million iPods have been sold since late 2001, giving Apple about 75 percent of the U.S. market for portable music players,

In a sign of the iPod's dominance in the world of digital players, the CES show floor was packed with a raft of accessories.

They ranged from designer cases, to protective shells, to in-car adapters.

"One of the largest growth areas is iPod accessories," said Consumer Electronics Association analyst Sean Wargo.

"In cars, we are seeing iPod integration in car dashboards."

CES, the world's largest consumer technology trade show, closes its doors on Sunday.


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