MP3 Players

So about ten years ago I was working at a place where software was being written to support MP3 players and gather different forms of content into a new and daily upload for your MP3 player. There were a number of problems, not the least of which was the fact that you couldn't really control the daily feed that was put together. In addition, you couldn't advance through the songs something like more than 3 or so times an hour. The MP3 players were, for the most part, built by iRiver, which as I recall was a Korean company. I think at the time, their largest player was 4 megabytes. It was impressive that it was small, and had a LCD display. I don't have much affinity for Korean companies as they tend to have sweat-shop-like labor practices, but I'm digressing...

It's sort of amazing that there was such a vibrant competition in the digital player space only 10 years ago that is now just about GONE. Apple seems to have locked down the market so successfully that no one else is even willing to try. I went searching last night for MP3 players, only to find that the most recent non-apple offerings are 3-4 years old.

There's no real competition for formats or for being able to control your own music. I don't want Apple's AAC format, I won't want Microsoft's Window's WMA format... I want MP3, and Ogg-Vorbis. There's really nothing that lets you select the format that you want for your audio player. I'm discouraged that the only thing that starts to come close to what I want appears to be the iPod nano - I feel like doing so would be selling out. I'm somewhat old-school in that I want to own the media that the music comes on. I want the vinyl. I want the cassette, I want the CD. I want these things because to not have them puts your access to the music in the hands of someone else. In this case it's Apple, and iTunes. I realize the chance is remote, but what if Apple gets hacked and the registry of everyone's musical choice is deleted? If I have the physical CD, this doesn't matter. What if my computer crashes, and in order to access my music I have to spend $1000+ dollars to get a new computer to re-establish access to my iTunes account? Our current digital off-loaded carefree always-on cloud whatever doesn't have a good answer.

I lament a number of things, as you can see. I lament a no-longer vigorous MP3 player market. I lament the embrace of purely ephemeral digital music. I lament the loss of physical copies of the actual recorded music. I lament that so many people were so quick and so willing to give up their physical music.

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