Creative is plotting a sensational new strategy to use the legendary Apple iPod to propel itself to new levels of success. While Creative is building new products for use with the market-dominating iPod, it's also planning to launch a next-gen 'iPod killer' possibly as soon as 2008.
"The Apple iPod is the biggest selling MP3 player on the planet, and we helped to invent it" said Creative senior vice president Jean Marc Dupuis, referring to last year's "broad settlement" where Creative was paid $100 million by Apple. "Creative invented the iPod's user interface. It's called the Zen Interface and that's what Apple is using. We're very proud of that," added Dupuis.
All Creative's current X-Fi products were given a demo to the press during the briefing, and Dupuis said that working with the iPod was key to the company's future.
However, when Tech.co.uk spoke to Creative brand specialist Alan Devine after the event, he hinted that Creative has some titanic new MP3 products in the design stage.
iPod dominates market still
"We're here today to talk specifically about the newly-announced Creative Zen," he said. "But yes we do have some spectacular new products in the early stages of development in Singapore. The Creative Zen will be our flagship player for the next couple of months at least."
Devine also said that Creative is still working on putting X-Fi crystallising technology into future MP3 players.
"It's something we're actively working on," he said. "The trouble is that the technology is so good that it's quite battery-intensive, so wouldn't currently work well in a portable device. There's nothing arriving in the short term but we are working hard to try and get X-Fi into a player."
Devine said that he believes Creative can make a dent into the market share of Apple's all-conquering iPod. "In some European countries we're already number one. And in most we're a comfortable second place behind Apple. We are a serious competitor to Apple. We've sold three million of our flash-based Zen players in Europe alone over the last 12 months," he said.
He hinted that there would be a brand-leading flagship player coming out after Christmas, with some even more exciting products planned for the next couple of years.
"We have a range of products coming out over the next year. We've done well in the entry level with the Zen Stone; the Creative Zen fits nicely mid-market. That leaves a pretty obvious area of the market for us to fill, and I can't say more than that."
Devine promised that some amazing new products would be coming out at some point in the future, but said that the really exciting stuff was only in prototype stage. Could we see a touchscreen MP3 player from Creative coming out next year?
"Touchscreen is an obvious thing to pitch, but there's going to be much more exciting things than that," he said.
So while Creative works with Apple with products like the X-dock Wireless, it's also planning to hit Apple where it hurts with a serious iPod competitor at some point in the future. Watch this space.
At the press briefing, Creative also launched a new pair of Aurvana noise cancelling headphones which sport X-Fi and CMSS features.