Portable music players

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How satisfied are you with your music software? graph of japanese opinionAt 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)

  This survey
May 2006
Last survey
May 2005
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.

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