It’s the accessories stupid

I got one of the new Creative Zen Micro’s yesterday. It’s a hard disc based MP3 player that can read both MP3’s and WMA’s. The user interface is not as slick as the iPod, but is it perfectly usable. What I realized as I was using it, and what makes the iPod so compelling is the sheer number of accessories that you can buy for it. If I want I nice case for the Micro..can’t get it. A sports case to take it to the gym? Nope. How about a cool add on to let it transmit the audio to my car’s FM radio? Sorry…can’t do it. All of those things are in abundant on the iPod side of the house. What I DO like about the Zen is that when I plug it in, it just works with my Windows Media Player 10. Nothing to download. With the iPod, you MUST download iTunes (which also installs the bloated Quicktime along with it..oh joy.) Another thing I liked about the Zen, is that it transcodes my music down to a lower bitrate. That means that my 256k MP’s will be converted to a lower bitrate via Windows Media Player. lowerbitrate=smaller file size. Smaller file size=more music on the device. Cool. Hey all you MP3 makers out there….if you want to beat the iPod you MUST have a bunch of cool accessories AT LAUNCH of your product. It seems basic, but Apple totally gets that and is really aggressive about making sure there are cool 3rd party add ons available AT LAUNCH. Not 6-months later…but a week after a product ships. The huge catalog of add-ons are what really help a product along, wouldn’t you say?