Fri, Jul 21, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Apple iPod sales still strong despite more competition

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Despite strong competition from rivals pushing their "iPod-killer" MP3 players, Apple Computer Inc said sales of its popular music players were still strong in Taiwan, denying recent reports that sales were down.

"Figures from GfK Marketing Services still show that we are enjoying a lead in the local digital music player market," said an official from Apple's Taiwan branch yesterday, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

For the first five months of the year, Apple garnered a 29 percent share in the local MP3 market in terms of sales value, with Micro-Star International Co (微星科技) second at 6.5 percent and Samsung Electronics Co third at 5.1 percent, according to GfK's statistics.

The Chinese-language DigiTimes, citing retail figures, reported on Wednesday that sales of iPods in Taiwan had fallen below 20,000 units a month since April, due to fierce competition from Samsung and SanDisk Corp, along with price cuts from its less-popular rivals.

This was in contrast to iPod sales during the first quarter, which reached a peak of 45,000 to 50,000 units a month when supplies were ample, or between 25,000 and 35,000 units per month when there were product shortages.

Apple has been slow in introducing newer iPod models since launching the iPod video model last October.

The company said it shipped 8.11 million iPods worldwide in the quarter ended July 1, down from 8.53 million the previous quarter. There has been speculation it will release new models later this year to spur holiday sales, including a new video player and updated versions of its pencil-thin nano.

But officials at Apple Taiwan declined to confirm, except to say that any local product launches will be in tandem with other markets.

Nonetheless, Apple has embarked on a worldwide program targeted at students for the back-to-school season.

Between June 15 and Sept. 16, when college students here buy a Mac -- either a MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac or Power Mac G5 -- and an iPod, they can enjoy a rebate of up to NT$6,177 (US$188).

Competition in the MP3 market heated up earlier this month, after Samsung

launched its YP-Z5 series, which has a similar feel and look to the iPod

nano but claims to have stronger features and a cheaper price.

The followed SanDisk's release of its Sansa e200, which boasts a

scratch-proof liquid metal casing to challenge the nanos' fragile screens.

Memory module maker Adata Technology Inc (威剛科技) is also scheduled to

debut its first portable media player at next month's Taipei Computer

Appliances Show, attempting to grab a slice of the local MP3 market, which

is estimated to grow to 1 million units this year from last year's 870,000.

Priced at NT$5,490 and weighing in at 100g, the Adata's PM1 brags a 2.5-inch

screen and a 1.3 mega-pixel digital camera. It is able to store up to 18.5

hours of music files and 7.5 hours of MPEG-4 videos.

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