Challenging Apple with Zen Vision

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I just came across an article by John Biggs on the new Creative Zen Vision:M in the Circuits section of the New York Times. Creative’s new personal media player is positioned to compete with the Apple iPod, and it will undoubtedly fail.

Very often, businesses and people identify the best practices of the current time and employ them to better their position. In many occasions this is a prudent course of action. In Creative’s case it ensures that the Zen Vision:M will never be remarkable. Creative’s new offering looks like a copy cat with its rounded corners, large display and minimal controls. It is priced in the same range as an iPod. It plays various bits of media – more variety than an iPod. It offers a touch sensitive scroll bar as its primary navigation interface. Creative’s brightest minds can only hope that consumers are looking for an iPod alternative – maybe they can take some of Apple’s potential customer base.

As the new owner of a black video iPod, I might be biased, but I doubt it. I just finished up Donald Norman’s Emotional Design. Apple is all about their emotional brand and their emotional designs. A purchase with Apple grants access to the identity and mystique of what Apple and, in this case, the iPod have become to the modern world. What do white ear buds mean to you? What do you see when someone draws a rectangle with a circle in the lower half? Those who are not members wish they were or, at the very least, are curious as to what it might be like. For all we know, the Zen Vision:M and the iPod are manufactured by the same company and in the same factory in China, but no matter what Creative does, the emotional component of the personal music player remains with Apple.

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