MP3 players have become a symbol of technological progress
The first MP3 player in history appeared just over a decade ago. No one could then have imagined the impact that these portable devices would have on the digital society. Today they are mass consumer products.
"MP3 players have a dizzying history (and their origins are rather unclear). Many believe that the pioneer was the Rio PMP300, created in 1998 by the Californian firm Digital Networks North America. But the truth is that a humble South Korean company had taken the initiative a few months earlier with the launch of the MPMan F10, a rudimentary device with just 32 MB of memory (able to store 5 or 6 songs). That first venture was a commercial flop.
The Rio PMP300 did slightly better, with more storage capacity and a more up-to-date design. But the legend was forged as from late 2001. In October of that year Apple stepped in with the launch of the iPod, which has since then swept away the competition. Thus the MP3 craze came into being.
The US Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) calculates that nearly half of the homes in the developed world have an MP3 player, a percentage that will rise above 60% in 2012. This is the segment that has evolved fastest in recent years in the consumer electronics industry, and though the Western market is showing the first signs of saturation there is still much room for growth in the emerging economies.
According to the specialist consultants iSuppli, in 2009 some 225 million multimedia and MP3 players may have been sold around the world. In 2011 the figure of 270 units may be exceeded, doubling their sales in 2005, when the total was 129 million units. Manufacturers of MP3 players turn over more than 20 billion dollars a year (some 14.6 billion euros).
When buying an MP3 player one should remember that there are two types with different features and qualities:
- Flash-based players These store digital audio files in an internal or external memory (such as a memory card). They normally have limited storage capacity, between 128 MB and 4 GB, though their memory is sometimes enlargeable.
- Hard drive-based players These read digital audio files from a hard disc. They normally have more storage capacity, from 1.5 GB to 100 GB, depending on the hard disc technology. The popular Apple iPod and Creative Zen employ this format. "
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Published in Electronics and Telephony by Marco O. Brik on 30/03/2010
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