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November 23, 2005

Microsoft pushes universal MP3 player dock

Posted by David Hunter at 6:33 PM ET.

Tony Smith at The Register where the subtitle is “Or, how to beat Apple’s iPod by leveraging ‘open’ standards”:

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has established a working group to develop a universal docking standard for portable devices, the US-centric organisation announced this week.

The move is being driven by Microsoft – at least, the software giant is the only company to be granted quotation space on the CEA press release, and there’s a Microsoft staffer in the working group’s chair. It’s not hard to see why. Having failed to beat the iPod using proprietary technology – the Windows Media format – it’s try to beat it using a sharper weapon: the open standard it defines.

The CEA press release is here.

Apple’s iPod owes its success to many factors, not least of which is the company’s decision to develop the player’s dock connector. Where other music player makers have simply stuck in a USB port and and left it at that, the proprietary dock connector has provided the perfect foundation for a whole range of iPod accessories that have, in turn, helped the small white player on its way to mainstream market dominance.

Perhaps recalling what happened in the Palm world, Apple has also been willing to allow other firms to license the dock connector mechanical and electrical specifications, and that too has made it much easier for third-party manufacturers to knock up iPod-specific devices, boosting the so-called ‘iPod ecosystem’ for which Apple likes to claim credit.

Car makers are starting to put the dock connector into their vehicles and it’s already turned up in a broad array of docking cradles, speaker rigs, remote control systems, wireless connectivity tools and more.

Almost none of which, of course, are available for music players based on Windows Media. In particular, the automobile interfaces, which is probably why Microsoft is making so much of that side of the universal dock concept as it is. Think how big, how sexy the car industry is.

Indeed. More by following the link including various options for Apple.

Filed under Apple, Coopetition, Digital Media, Embedded, Portable Media Center, Standards, Technologies, Windows Automotive

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2 Responses to “Microsoft pushes universal MP3 player dock”

  1. Microsoft iPod Killer update -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] – Then there are reports that Microsoft has been talking up the accessories manufacturers: After offering confirmation of recent reports that Microsoft will release an iPod-competitive media player called Zune, representatives of iPod accessory manufacturers have disclosed to iLounge that the Redmond, Washington-based company has contacted them regarding potential accessory licensing and compatibility plans for the device, similar to Apple’s Made For iPod program. Like all current iPods except for the iPod shuffle, Zune will feature a proprietary expansion port that Microsoft will allow companies to accessorize at a lower rate than the Made For iPod program, and one which a source suggests will likely lead to widespread iPod industry third-party support for the new device. Gosh! It wasn’t that long ago that Microsoft was supporting an open docking standard for portable media players. [...]

  2. Apple rounds out iPod domination of the US auto market -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] Microsoft had been trying out the “industry standard media player dock” ploy as a counter to the iPod hegemony, but that seems to have been forgotten with the excitement over the Zune which apparently has a proprietary connector too. Filed under Coopetition, Apple, Standards, Microsoft, Argo, Zune   [Permalink] [...]

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