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"Close to... Apple's iPod"

I've re-read a blog entry of mine from a few days ago and caught something interesting in a quote from it. It was on Microsoft's latest effort to convince the world they're going to gain share against Apple in digital music. Here's the relevant section:

"Come this fall there is going to be a number of devices that get close to competing with Apple's iPod," [Erik] Huggers [head of Microsoft's Digital Media Division] said yesterday in San Francisco. By the second quarter of next year, "There is going to be a whole lineup of products that can compete with Apple in industrial design, usability, functionality and features."
Let me see if I can't translate that:
"Windows Media-compatible digital audio players haven't been competitive with the iPod. We know that. And they won't be competitive with it this fall, though our partners will have closed some of the gap by then. But eight months from now? Then they'll be as good as the iPod."
This raises two obvious comments:
  1. Microsoft's partners have been at this for years and, by Microsoft's own admission, they still can't match the iPod?
  2. Microsoft itself is telling consumers that digital audio players compatible with its service won't be as good as the iPod for another eight months?
To paraphrase Zaphod Beeblebrox, ten out of ten for honesty, but minus several million for bad public relations strategy.

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