The latest "iPod killer" is about to hit the market in the form of Toshiba's Gigabeat S Series Portable Media Center. Besides a nice display and some Xbox 360 integration, this little unit powered by Windows Media Player does not really have anything that leaps out to make it a serious iPod competitor. Although this looks like a solid piece of technology, if Microsoft and its partners really want to compete with Apple in the personal media player market - and they obviously do - then they are going to have to do better. They need to make a product that has WOW features that go beyond the iPod-iTunes combo and they need to beat Apple on price.
It's not nearly enough to be as good, or close, to the iPod because the iPod has transcended technology to become a cultural phenomenon. It has a tremendous amount of cachet. If there's a choice between an iPod and a comparable product at a comparable price then most buyers will choose the iPod every time because of the powerful brand recognition (and cachet).
The fact that the Toshiba Gigabit S is Windows-powered is no added benefit in this market. Now, if we're talking SmartPhones then there's an obvious benefit of having a device that could integrate with a Windows desktop more effectively and efficiently. But for music, video, and pictures, the media is almost completely file-based and independent from the OS.
The Gigabit S looks like a solid little player, but it still poses little threat to one of technology's greatest cultural icons ever.
Jason Hiner has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Jason Hiner is Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.