At the start of May MyVoice surveyed the members of their internet community by means of a private survey regarding portable music players. They got 14,913 valid responses to their internet questionnaire, with 54% of the sample female, 4% in their teens, 21% in their twentiesm 39% in their thirties, 24% in their forties, and 12% in their fifties.
I have a Sony hard disk-based music player on test, but rather than a product review (I’ve mentioned it before myself, and Gen Kanai has a long thread or three on issues with the software) I’ll review myself. Before I got the machine on loan, I hadn’t used a portable player since perhaps my university days.
The first thing I noticed, for perhaps three or four days wearing it on my commute to work, was that the world seemed different; I felt I was stepping back from reality into a little cocoon that shielded me from some of the – well, I don’t really know what, just a transparent bubble that kept everyone else from intruding into my personal aural space, and to some extent my consciousness too. Once these feelings faded – or at least until I assimilated them as a normal commuting state – and as I started loading the player up with a decent amount of music, I noticed I was becoming a very selfish and intolerant listener. Before, I used standard CDs almost exclusively, and even ripped content was played on a per album basis, and I’d often keep the same album loaded up for days if not weeks at a time, playing it over and over. Now, with 300 tracks at my fingertips I find myself hitting the Next Track button an awful lot, tracks get marked down on a whim, and I find myself seeking out my favourites far too often. Part can be attributed to a lack of functionality in the software on the player; I’d love an enhanced random shuffle mode that took into account rating when selecting what to play so I’d only hear my one star tracks once in a blue moon, and skipping a track before getting past the intro downrates it a bit.
I think I should get rid of the player before it destroys my sense of musical appreciation completely, and buy a 128Mb player that I can only load one or two albums at a time onto. Yes, I’ll never listen to music on that player again.
Meanwhile, back at the survey, the Japanese people had this to say about the matter.
Q1: What type of portable audio player to you use the most? (Sample size=14,913)
Digital audio player (Solid-state memory based) 12.6% 7.9% Portable MD player 12.0% 19.8% Digital audio player (Hard disk based) 10.0% 6.7% Portable CD player 6.8% 10.3% Music download-enabled mobile phone 6.4% N/A Digital audio player (unknown whether memory or disk-based) 2.3% N/A Cassette player 1.5% 2.5% Other 1.1% 1.8% Don’t use any 47.3% 51.1%
Q2: Select all the brands or makers of all the digital audio players you currently use. (Sample size=digital audio player users, multiple answer)
iPod 43.5% Sony 13.7% iRiver 8.2% Rio 7.4% Creative 5.6% D-snap (Panasonic) 4.0% Gigabeat 3.8% SHARP 1.8% Adtec 1.3% Samsung 1.2% Kenwood 1.2% Seagrand 1.0% Olympus 1.0% iAudio 1.0% Sanyo 0.9% Torica 0.3% woodi 0.1% Other 12.9% No answer 0.2%
Wow! The iPod has nearly half the market!
Q3: If you were buying a digital audio player, what sort of things are important? (Sample size=14,913, up to three answers)
Price 66.6% Sound quality 39.1% Design 35.1% Usability 34.1% Hard disk size 33.1% Portability 20.3% Maximum playback time 13.8% Durability 12.7% Brand or maker 8.5% Whether battery can be changed 7.3% File formats supported 7.2% Ability to load music without a PC 5.2% Display readability 4.3% Voice recorder functionality 2.6% Works with pay-for download service 2.3% Video playback features 2.0% Accessory kit availability 1.4% Associated music library management software 1.1% Other 1.3% Don’t think I want to buy 9.0% No answer 2.1%
Q4: If you have downloaded music files onto your computer, how do you manage them? (Sample size=14,913, multiple answer)
Use music file management software (to Q5 and Q6) 22.5% Manage files my own way 16.5% Other 0.8% Don’t do any particular management 16.9% Don’t download music 43.8% No answer 2.7%
Q5: Select which one of the following music management software you use the most. (Sample size=music management software users)
iTunes 46.9% Windows Media Player 23.0% SonicStage 13.7% SD-Jukebox 3.4% CONNECT Player 1.6% iRiver plus 1.5% Creative MediaSource 0.8% Toshiba Audio Application 0.7% Rio Music Manager 0.4% MusicFileMaster 0.4% JetShell 0.2% MOOCS Player 0.2% Kenwood Media Application 0.1% m:trip 0.1% Samsung Music Studio 0.0% Other 5.9% No answer 0.9%
Q6: How satisfied are you with your music management software? (Sample size=music management software users)
Totally satisfied 18.9% Somewhat satisfied 44.7% Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied 26.7% Somewhat dissatisfied 7.0% Totally dissatisfied 1.5% No answer 1.2%
This gives 63.6% expressing some degree of satisfaction. For the top four players from Q5, iTunes had the most happy users, with 26.9%+46.8% = 73.7% satisfied to some degree. Next were Sony’s SonicStage users, at 15.0%+47.4% = 62.4%, then Microsoft’s Windows Media Player at 13.2%+41.5% = 54.7%, then bringing up the rear was Panasonic’s SD-Jukebox at 9.7%+42.5% = 52.2% happy to some degree.