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Here We Go Again...

Is it me, or do we get this story every six months or so? From an article in the Seattle Times:

Microsoft said Apple Computer's best-selling iPod music player will face increased competition from new products in the end-of-year shopping season.

Microsoft is working with electronics makers including Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics and Creative Technology to design and test music players that rival iPod, said Erik Huggers, head of Microsoft's Digital Media Division.

"Come this fall there is going to be a number of devices that get close to competing with Apple's iPod," Huggers 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."

Right, we've heard this before, but here's the funny part (emphasis mine):

While Apple's iPod and iTunes music store work together easily, Microsoft has faced difficulty showing customers which of the many Windows-based players and music stores are compatible. A campaign called "PlaysForSure," to put a logo on devices that would show consumers what works together, hasn't helped because not all devices with the logo actually work with the promised services.

"We tend to call it 'PlaysForAlmostSure,'" [Jupiter analyst Michael] Gartenberg said. "Meanwhile, Apple's iPod and iTunes are dancing together like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers."

So let me get this right: "PlaysForSure" does not, in fact, mean that it plays for sure? If true, it's time for Robert Scoble to wander through Microsoft's digital media division with an iPod in one hand and a baseball bat in the other. Seriously.

I'm more than content with my iPod, and happy to see Apple getting the best of Microsoft for once, but as with operating systems, we need true, vigorous competition in digital media players to keep the pressure on Apple to continue innovating.

Oh, how the tables have turned.

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