Here is a very detailed article about concurrent products for the Apple iPod called “iPod Killers for Christmas 2006” (and an older one for Summer 2006).
And I think to some extent the article exhibits, why all those vendors remain unsuccsessful to decrease the market share of the iPod. It is not a question of the style of the object. Even the feature set will not do it. The secret to the success of the iPod is a) it’s simplicity and b) iTunes (and to some degree the iTunes Store). There is practically no simpler way to manage the content of your MP3 Player than to let iTunes handle the files on your iPod for you.
Without iTunes no one would really much about the iPod. The other MP3 Players may look slick – but the more important question is what kind of tricks you need to do to get the desired music on that thingy. And Apple did understand this since the 1st generation iPod: Apple did not design only a product – they designed a whole product system, where everything related to digital music can be managed absolutley stress free.
And this is such an important selling argument that people even tend to ignore the fact, that Apple cages them in that system: no songs bought on iTunes play on these “iPod killers” because those do not support the DRM Apple is using to protect the copyrights (not to mention that you can’t change crippled batteries). If you can do anything you want within that system already you will rarely touch its border and find something you want to do but can’t.
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