October 5, 2007 9:00 AM PDT

Week in review: Where's the Apple iKiller?

Challengers to Apple's gadget throne released new products--but do they have the muscle to get the job done?

The first salvo came from Microsoft, which announced that it will offer three new models of the Zune music player in November, including two equipped with flash memory. The 4GB and 8GB versions are iPod Nano lookalikes that will sell for a suggested retail price of $149 and $199 respectively. An 80GB player equipped with a hard drive will sell for $249. The pricing scheme for the devices exactly mirrors that of Apple's iPods.

Some of the other changes include a complete overhaul of the device's software and a redesign of Marketplace, Zune's music store. Other interesting features include wireless syncing and the new Zune Pad, a touch-sensitive technology that enables people to slide a finger across the main navigation button instead of always having to click.

However, analysts are saying the newest Zune models don't offer anything demonstrably better than the iPod. More than a year has passed since Microsoft began developing the music player and the company is still without a video store comparable to iTunes. Zune's Marketplace will begin offering music videos, but it is still without TV shows. While Microsoft crowed about its new touch-sensitive navigation button, the new iPods come equipped with touch-sensitive screens.

While many CNET readers condemned or defended the new device, which News.com learned is set to be released by November 13, one reader suggested that they didn't have much to go on while evaluating the yet-to-be-released player.

"It's just sad that people don't even try something, before saying 'I hate it!'" wrote one reader to the CNET News.com TalkBack forum.

On another front, Verizon Wireless, hoping to put a dent in iPhone's popularity, gave an early look at some of its upcoming phones for the holiday 2007 season. The company expects to have these phones and others on Verizon Wireless store shelves before Thanksgiving.

The LG Voyager is the first phone offered by Verizon Wireless that--like the Apple iPhone--has a large external touch screen. Verizon Wireless is also finally offering its version of the popular BlackBerry Pearl. Unlike models sold by AT&T or T-Mobile, Verizon's version will work over its 3G network.

However, the preview had one CNET News.com reporter wondering where the iPhone killer was in the pack, saying "I wasn't really blown away by any of the phones that Verizon showed off." The reporter added that she didn't think people impressed by the iPhone and hoping to get one this holiday season would be happy with any of these Verizon Wireless phones in their stockings.

The song remains to blame
The spotlight returned to the fight against online file sharing as a Minnesota woman was ordered to pay $220,000 to six of the top music labels after a federal jury found that she shared copyrighted music over the Internet. Jammie Thomas, who was accused of sharing more than 1,700 songs, elected to fight it out in court with the recording industry instead of settling for far less money.

The case marked the first time that a music file-sharing case has gone before a jury. Thomas denied wrongdoing. While she was accused of sharing music with Kazaa, she argued that she didn't even own a Kazaa account.

Meanwhile, tired of their antipiracy messages being ignored by the teen- and college-age set, the entertainment industry is attempting to indoctrinate far younger disciples. Representatives from the Entertainment Software Association, the video game industry's trade group, and the Canadian Recording Industry Association shed some light on their strategies at an antipiracy summit this week hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Entertainment Software Association has gone so far as to develop a copyright education curriculum geared toward the kindergarten through fifth-grade set. Since 2005, the organization has been trying to find ways to get teachers to incorporate its tenets into their everyday lessons. The components, which include charts, teacher's guides, lesson plans and a wall poster imploring students to "Join the ? Team," are also now available online.

CONTINUED: Taxes, privileges and Sputnik…
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17 comments

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iPhone 5 years ahead...
When Steve Jobs said that the iPhone was "5 years ahead of anything else out there" I thought, I'm sure other companies will have competitive products within 2 or 3 years. But with the way that things are going, which this article points out, other companies are very much failing to come up with anything even worth desiring, better yet able to compete with Apple's products. Steve is actually right when he said that the iPhone is years ahead. I have one, and I love my iPhone and these other phones are NOTHING like the iPhone. The iPod has been out for years and these other companies have yet to come out with something with an interface as intuitive and desirable as the iPod.

I'm actually surprised that this has occurred. I think we're beginning to realize that the amount of extremely intelligent and creative people in the world are lower than we had originally anticipated, or they've already been employed by companies like Apple and Google. Now we're turning to college students for ideas because if anyone else in the world had a good idea, they would've done it by now, and college students are fresh, untapped sources of liberal, creative solutions.

Companies like Apple and Google are the creative juggernauts driving technological innovation. Creativity and innovation is not an easy resource to simply tap into. If that were the case, Microsoft and Sony would be in a much better positions than they are now. So it's amazing that Apple is completely saturated in innovation and is not just moving forward, but is taking us into the future in huge leaps and bounds.
Posted by coryschulz (326 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Innovation
I've been using Apple products since 1986. Apple has ALWAYS
been about innovation. They have not always created the
technology they use, but more times then not they have introduced
it in a way that makes people WANT to use it. Apple has jokingly
been called the R&D department for the rest of the industry for
years and history shows us why. If you want to be on the cutting
edge of technology go to work for Apple. There is a lot of talent
that has realized this and done just that.
Posted by lantzn (130 comments )
Link Flag
5 years behind in gaming
The majority of games out for a Mac are games that came out on the PC years ago. Finally they are getting the idea that gaming is a huge untapped market for Mac and they managed to get EA to release a few of the newer games for OSX. To bad they aren't coded for Mac, just ported.
Posted by SeizeCTRL (1333 comments )
Link Flag
Who cares about replaceable this or that!
First I don't own a mac and am not a die hard Apple fan, yet since owning a 3rd gen ipod I have bought a 5.5 gen ipod a few months ago and my next computer will be a Mac!

In my opinion Apple, their innovation and user interface and overall quality in the user's experience is so superior it reminds me of a sensational luxury car compared to cheap junk that detroit tries to pass off.

So what if you can't change a battery? So what if it doesn't do everything all the time. I have bought countless PC's in the past and every time I wanted to change the memory a new standard had arrived. In the end I may as well bought an all encompassing system and replaced it every few years. People don't want to be tinkerers any more they just want a great product that is rock solid.

Apple's products and consumer electronics should NOT be modified, it just ruins the experience. You don't change the engine in your car or globes in a TV. You don't buy a Ferrari to carry luggage, sometimes things left out make it a better experience. The sooner makers learn this the better products are going to be.

Apple has kept tight control and for it we have got usb, firewire, ipods, magnetic power supply, mouse, gui and dozens of firsts. Leave it to those that want everything and the likes of MS will keep churning out the same junk for years to come only with a modified so called clock added!
Posted by grelaz (33 comments )
Reply Link Flag
verizon iphone killer and microsoft
You must be kidding right?I am not blind but the new verizon phones look like dinosaurs hidious and ridiculous who in his right mind would buy those?
and the microsoft music player same thing .Please do not insult our intelligence.Yes the iPhone is 5 years ahead and just can't wait to buy the new iPhone 2 when it comes out.
Posted by hightechadrian (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hey, do what you want
If you want a Mac, go for it. I am open to considering one for my wife's next laptop as well, since I don't like the way Vista is going. However, Apple only fits a portion of the market, and I have not yet decided if it's the portion I want. Adding features, btw, does not make something junk. And, a lot of people want to open the hood of their car and add a supercharger or a new induction system. Apple doesn't fit that market too well, (sure, they don't have to) so you can't blame the guy who wants to open the hood if he goes with something other than Mac.
Posted by gabeheim (121 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Adding bloat does make junk.
How many of the so called features of MS Office do you use on a regular basis? How many do you never use? How many times/hour does a useless and distracting message pop up on your system tray in Windows?

The fact is that features are not necessarily benefits. Apple knows this, but Microsoft refuses to accept the truth. It's the benefits that matter, not the features.

Get a Mac. You can always run Windows on it if you need to, but you probably won't. You very likely won't want to either!
Posted by Macaresafer (44 comments )
Link Flag
lol
What a biased writer, lol just show us your apple tattoo. And the new verizon phone is already batter than the crappy iphone, it has a real keyboard 3g network access which blows att speeds out the water. And it has every thing the iphone has but better, seriously cnet get unbiased writers.
Posted by calibre80 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Apple products..
They just work. (Until you decide to do something with them that's not apple approved)

I thought about getting an Iphone but realized that it's not worth it.. AT&T upgrades their networks to full 3G you've got a phone that's stuck on EDGE. If I spend that much money on a phone I don't plan upgrade it within the next year or two.

Ipods, there are mp3 players that do much more and don't require a proprietary software to add music to them. I could care less if it's touch sensitive or I can sit at starbucks and download music.. Fact is.. there's no starbucks where I live.

Macs.. No thanks, I'm a tinkerer I like knowing my system inside and out.
Posted by AlchemicalOne (6 comments )
Link Flag
Look to China for the Apple iKiller
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.intomobile.com/2007/04/18/another-apple-iphone-clone-from-china.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.intomobile.com/2007/04/18/another-apple-iphone-clone-from-china.html</a>

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.engadget.com/2007/01/29/meizus-m8-apple-lawyers-start-your-engines/" target="_newWindow">http://www.engadget.com/2007/01/29/meizus-m8-apple-lawyers-start-your-engines/</a>

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://blogs.business2.com/utilitybelt/2007/08/a-chinese-iphon.html" target="_newWindow">http://blogs.business2.com/utilitybelt/2007/08/a-chinese-iphon.html</a>

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://gadgets.fosfor.se/iphone-clone-out-in-china/" target="_newWindow">http://gadgets.fosfor.se/iphone-clone-out-in-china/</a>

The Chinese iPhone and iPod clones should hit the USA sometime in 2008.
Posted by Troll Hard (182 comments )
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