In August sales of Android handsets surpassed the sale of iPhones around the world. With Android being an open platform it wasn't a huge surprise - (we predicted it) – but it opened manufacturers' eyes to new ways of putting the hurt on Apple. The most overdue of which finally gathered momentum this week: the iPod.
On Monday Samsung unveiled its heavily reworked 'Galaxy Player' (YP-GB1), an Android 2.2 based MP3 player influenced by the stylings of the Galaxy S. With a 4in SLCD, 1GHz CPU and dual cameras its smartphone roots shine through. Samsung had dabbled with this concept earlier in the year, but a first gen Galaxy Player (the YP-G50) was half hearted with mediocre specs and limited distribution. Now a CES unveiling of the GB1 is on the cards and it looks capable of giving the so far untouchable iPod touch (sorry, had to go there) a run for its money.
Far more concerning for Apple, however, is what the GB1 may represent: a resurgence of competition in MP3 players. This is a battle Apple had long seen as won. At last count iPods accounted for a whopping 74 per cent of all MP3 players sold and its closest rival was SanDisk with just 7.2 per cent. Audio purists will always look for the latest Trekstor or Walkman, but in reality the competition was slain. It was O.V.E.R.
If the GB1 piques interest, however, there is no reason to doubt the consistently sheep-like nature of tech companies will see them release their own Android MP3 players. As the iPod touch has proved they just need to be stripped down versions of the smartphones many of these companies already make and the openness of Android means we could see all shapes and sizes. Maybe it will be down to LG or Motorola to give us the 'real' iPod nano for which we've all been yearning. Yes Android's biggest weakness is its media player, but with VLC for Android coming soon and a video leak (below) of Gingerbread's overhauled player interface showing huge improvement it shouldn't be a problem for long. Furthermore it is surely nailed on that such devices would undercut iPod prices.
But aren't MP3 players old news?! I hear you cry. Actually no. The failure of rival companies to challenge the iPod has led to these companies spreading the message that MP3 players are dead. It is a chicken and the egg syndrome: are we buying less MP3 players because all-in-one devices like smartphones are the only place to be, or because so few decent iPod alternatives are now built that we are losing interest at only having iPods to choose from?
Let's put this in some perspective….