Dell is back in the music business, despite a failed effort to gain any ground in this space a few years ago with its DJ mp3 player. This time around, they're calling it a Ditty and gearing up for a September release, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The pricing is said to be below $100 and the device will have WiFi connectivity.
I hate to be there "been there, done that" guy but it's hard to shake memories of failed efforts in the past. Even the biggest names - Microsoft and Sony among them - have taken a stab at unseating Apple's mighty iPod but have all failed. Can Dell, the struggling PC maker that walked away from its last music player venture with only 3 percent market share, be the one to finally make a dent?
Dell is reportedly using software it picked up when it acquired Zing, a small startup that boasted wireless connectivity as a way of always being tuned to Internet radio, online music services and more. Zing's features take the connectivity beyond music, using wireless to allow users to connect with friends, share pictures and more. It sounds like the Ditty has potential to be more of a mobile social networking device than just a mp3 player. And that could be what sets it apart from others. But it will have to move quick to deliver just the right marketing message to the right audience.
Apple already has a head-start through its marketing campaign that showcases iPhone as more than just a phone. And, as the capacity of memory cards goes up and the price goes down, turning an everyday cell phone into a 2-gig, 4-gig, or 8-gig music player is relatively inexpensive.
Hardcore iPod fans will surely snub their noses at this latest entry. After all, they're locked into the iPod because of the DRM-restricted music (and videos) they've been buying from iTunes. But for those who are open-minded enough to pick up a track from other sources, the Ditty could be worth consideration. I say we give Dell a second chance in this music game. Perhaps the lessons learned in Round One will make the product better in Round Two.