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View Full Version : Is there future for squeezebox/slimp3 with the current retailprices? - round 2



brievenbus@zonnet.nl
2004-01-25, 12:49
Hi, I was the original author of this and knew that I would get comments...

Ready for the second round?

Since I own a Slimp3 I've been trying to convert friends to slimdevices. In
the beginning I thought this would be easy, they will understand the advantages.
So far, only the techies understand the big advantage and have a (spare) PC
which can run all day as a server and know how to rip their CD collection.
All the advantages of Slimdevices and the community are not known or not
understood by the non-techies.
Does this means the audience for Slimdevices is still only early adopters?

Some scenario's, then the big question:

- If these devices are for early adopters only, it is fine(?) for Slimdevices.
If they can live from it now, they can tomorrow.

- If these devices are getting more common and the bigger companies sell them
in the consumer stores at very low prices it will be a big challenge for
Slimdevices to stay alive(?). The advantages of a Slimdevice product are not
known to the consumers is my point.

What can we do about it? Me as a promoter, others as a developer, Slimdevices
as a company.
I have serious concerns about the future for a niche product such as the
squeezebox with the upcoming competition.

-kdf said:
"Or you support a company that gives service, and a product that is
manufactured in lots of 1000. This alone costs more."
Why not promote the better service on the Slimdevices homepage. Why not
promote that if you have a valid feature request it might be implemented.
Explain why a squeeze box is more expensive.

For me it is hard to convince non-technical people that this is the device to
go for if you like music in the house. Still don't know where the problem is:
the fact that you need several components to get a working environment or the
difficulty of ripping a whole audio collection to a hard disk (yes, that is
difficult if you don't know anything about it). What can we do about it?

All-in one device? i.e.Squeezebox with HD with embedded Linux and Firewire /
USB connection to a PC or just make the HD of the Squeeze box an external Hd
which you can take to the PC to load extra files. Still you have to do the
'difficult' ripping of the CD's. Maybe adding an one-stop ripping package
which works fine with the Slimserver db could help non-technical users here.

Ok, You'll miss the browser interface but I doubt if non-techies know that you
can use it (I made the crazy step to use my Bluetooth Palm to manage the
Slimp3 with a Bluetooth AP, and yes my next PDA will have wifi!).

To finish, my personal wishlist for the next device:
- Add Photo/video, Photo even more important, my digital photo collection is
already on the server and is accessed through a database but I must fire up
the laptop to view the photo's. That should be as quick as listening to MP3's.

Thanks,
Willem

--

Jason Snell
2004-01-25, 14:06
>- If these devices are getting more common and the bigger companies sell them
>in the consumer stores at very low prices it will be a big challenge for
>Slimdevices to stay alive(?).

I am doubtful that Slim Devices will be (or intends to be) the
purveyor of mass-market products. More likely, they will continue to
sell products to more technically inclined, cutting-edge people. It's
tough to compete with DVD manufacturers, for example, when it's all
about the cost of components and low, low margins.

What I expect Slim Devices to do is stay ahead of the mass-market
product with intelligent products for people who are on the early
side of the adoption curve.

>I have serious concerns about the future for a niche product such as the
>squeezebox with the upcoming competition.

I have yet to see a product that fills the niche I feel the
Squeezebox does at a price lower than the Squeezebox. At that point
Slim Devices will have something to worry about. But the Squeezebox
is not, in my mind, competing with TV-required music players, or
devices with hard drives attached to them. Maybe there's an
opportunity there for Slim Devices to compete with those products
with their own product (like, as you suggest, a device that's also a
photo- and perhaps video player)

>Explain why a squeeze box is more expensive.

Than what?

>All-in one device?

Anyone who begins to engineer such a product today will find it's
obsolete by the time they bring it to market. With networking as
widespread as it already is and getting wider, an all-in-one device
just won't work, because people are listening to their music in
numerous ways. Now, a "music/media server" product -- that connected
to various kinds of players, including a Squeezebox-style product --
might make more sense. But an all-in-one player where I put my
Squeezebox doesn't sound right to me.

>To finish, my personal wishlist for the next device:
>- Add Photo/video, Photo even more important, my digital photo collection is
>already on the server and is accessed through a database but I must fire up
>the laptop to view the photo's. That should be as quick as listening to MP3's.

A Slim Devices product that does optional TV display with photos and
videos would be fantastic. Would it be the "replacement" for the
Squeezebox? Nope. It's a really, really different kind of product. I
really don't want to navigate my music collection on my TV set. But
if a new product could combine a TV-off experience that I have today
with a more "TiVo Home Media Option" experience, that would be a
great way to show that Slim Devices can grow and survive.

As for the current product, I think it's nearly perfect in terms of
conception. (If only the screen were a little bigger.) Ideally you've
got a computer with your music on it, you do a two-click server
install, plug in the hardware, and it just works. That's a pretty
consumer-friendly experience, assuming you're a consumer savvy enough
to understand the concept and have your collection on a computer.
Only some consumers are that savvy.... which is why Slim Devices is
not Apex. :-)

-jason
--
Jason Snell / Editor in Chief, Macworld / jsnell (AT) macworld (DOT) com
415-243-3565 / AIM-iChat: MW jsnell

Roy M. Silvernail
2004-01-25, 14:47
On Sun, 2004-01-25 at 14:49, brievenbus (AT) zonnet (DOT) nl wrote:
> Hi, I was the original author of this and knew that I would get comments...
>
> Ready for the second round?
>
> Since I own a Slimp3 I've been trying to convert friends to slimdevices. In
> the beginning I thought this would be easy, they will understand the advantages.
> So far, only the techies understand the big advantage and have a (spare) PC
> which can run all day as a server and know how to rip their CD collection.
> All the advantages of Slimdevices and the community are not known or not
> understood by the non-techies.
> Does this means the audience for Slimdevices is still only early adopters?

The audience for networked music players in general is still only early
adopters. The adoption rate for computer-related tech is still smaller
than us techies usually imagine. (believe it or not, there are some
people that don't even see the advantage to email)

> - If these devices are getting more common and the bigger companies sell them
> in the consumer stores at very low prices it will be a big challenge for
> Slimdevices to stay alive(?). The advantages of a Slimdevice product are not
> known to the consumers is my point.

Advantages over what, though? Yes, there are competing products coming
on the market, but there has been some competition all along.
(Audiotron, Rio Receiver) For the discerning consumer, there is only one
obvious choice. :)

> What can we do about it? Me as a promoter, others as a developer, Slimdevices
> as a company.
> I have serious concerns about the future for a niche product such as the
> squeezebox with the upcoming competition.

The "upcoming competition" is in the same niche, so I guess I don't
understand the problem here.

> Why not promote the better service on the Slimdevices homepage. Why not
> promote that if you have a valid feature request it might be implemented.
> Explain why a squeeze box is more expensive.

Frankly, as soon as you start justifying a higher price in your
promotion, the would-be consumer will focus on price exclusively. I
learned that in Advertising 101.

> For me it is hard to convince non-technical people that this is the device to
> go for if you like music in the house. Still don't know where the problem is:
> the fact that you need several components to get a working environment or the
> difficulty of ripping a whole audio collection to a hard disk (yes, that is
> difficult if you don't know anything about it). What can we do about it?

Well, if you're serous about evangelizing (and what Slim owner wouldn't
be? :), take the opposite tack. Ask your non-technical people how they
would put music throughout their house, using some common storage
source. Once they've come up with a Rube Goldberg solution, you then
point out the simplicity of the Squeezebox. BTW, the problem of ripping
the whole CD collection is shared by every product in this category.
One way or another, you have to have a store of music from which to
play, and to get that, you have to rip. Maybe we should look at
bundling a Windows version of grip, lame and cdparanoia preconfigured to
be a ripping machine? Linux users are an easier target, since most of
them are a bit more tech-savvy, but I agree that the Windows crowd needs
something that autoruns off the CD and has point-and-grunt operation.

> All-in one device? i.e.Squeezebox with HD with embedded Linux and Firewire /
> USB connection to a PC or just make the HD of the Squeeze box an external Hd
> which you can take to the PC to load extra files.

Interesting idea, but an all-in-one product will be far more expensive
than the Squeezebox, and not as easy to configure and use.

> Still you have to do the
> 'difficult' ripping of the CD's. Maybe adding an one-stop ripping package
> which works fine with the Slimserver db could help non-technical users here.

See above, ripping package. It's not *that* difficult, anyway. I
did my collection with grip, set to auto-rip on insert, and literally
all I did was feed CDs into the drive while I was sitting at the
computer doing email and whatnot.

> Ok, You'll miss the browser interface but I doubt if non-techies know that you
> can use it (I made the crazy step to use my Bluetooth Palm to manage the
> Slimp3 with a Bluetooth AP, and yes my next PDA will have wifi!).

Bottom line for me: networked music players are a techie toy. Complete
non-techies won't go for it in the first place. They're even scared off
by CD changers. Squeezebox is more akin to high-end stereo equipment
than mass-market gear, and that's As It Should Be. If someone
understands the advantage of a Dynalab receiver over something by
"EconoSound", they'll understand the Squeezebox. If not, then perhaps
they're actually better served with an Audiotron. I'd much rather see
Slim Devices occupy the upper end of the niche solidly than dilute the
product to try for mass appeal.

> To finish, my personal wishlist for the next device:
> - Add Photo/video, Photo even more important, my digital photo collection is
> already on the server and is accessed through a database but I must fire up
> the laptop to view the photo's. That should be as quick as listening to MP3's.

An interesting idea, but a bit outside the networked music player niche,
I'd think.

Do one thing. Do it well.
--
Roy M. Silvernail is roy (AT) rant-central (DOT) com, and you're not
Never Forget: It's Only 1's and 0's!
SpamAssassin->procmail->/dev/null->bliss
http://www.rant-central.com

Jack Coates
2004-01-25, 22:32
On Sun, 2004-01-25 at 11:49, brievenbus (AT) zonnet (DOT) nl wrote:
> Hi, I was the original author of this and knew that I would get comments...
>
> Ready for the second round?
....

Not particularly. Non-technical people are non-technical for a reason,
which is that they don't feel a need to be technical. They don't care,
and they'd rather be screwed on the few transactions they have to have
with technology than take the time to learn how not to be screwed.
Because they don't care, they deserve what they get and get what they
deserve.

A personal example: I occasionally need to do some work around the
house, so I bought a drill. I didn't particularly want a drill, and I
don't give a damn about drills. The quality of one drill over another
means absolutely nothing to me, because I don't intend to use it any
more than I absolutely have to. So, I bought the cheapest piece of crap
I could find, used it for the project, and put it away. When I need it
(maybe every six weeks), I take it out for thirty minutes, then put it
away. It is a laughable excuse for a drill and my contractor neighbor
would really rather not touch it because it is not a drill, but a
foolish toy. If I planned to do any real drilling, it would be a waste
of my money. I don't care.

Asking Slim Devices to make a more consumer-friendly device is
equivalent to complaining that the Ferrari company doesn't make enough
family-friendly sedans and minivans. This is a geek toy made by geeks
for other geeks who like to do geeky things because they care. If you
don't have at least one computer that's always on, you're not in the
target market and you should really go find some consumer-friendly
company who will be glad to sell you a cheap piece of crap that will be
self-contained, hermetically sealed, packaged with a glossy quick-setup
brochure, and utterly useless to any member of the target market for
Slim Devices.

<insert your next answer here about how Slim will go under within twenty
seconds if they ignore the unwashed masses>

Bull. Geeks are a large target market, and while I doubt that Slim will
become the next Sony by keeping focus, I am confident that they can
provide comfortable lives for themselves and their dependents by selling
geeky stuff to geeks. They may be able to expand into other target
markets, but there we're talking about different products, and their
policy is clearly (and wisely) to not talk about unreleased product.
--
Jack at Monkeynoodle Dot Org: It's A Scientific Venture...
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