This is pretty interesting on the surface but misses a trick.
Creative, who has its roots in MP3 players and other portable media devices, have announced an Android-based media player platform. I say platform because the company may never release a consumer-facing device itself, but instead is touting its own reference design, software development kit and media processor to OEMs and developers.
Hardware-wise, the device known as the Zii EGG (to be re-branded by those that bring it to market), has impressive media-centric specs that include:
- High Definition 1080p Output
- 3.5” 320×480 (16 million colors) LCD
- Capacitive 10-Point Multi-Gesture Touchscreen Display
- SD card slot
- 3D Hardware Graphics Acceleration for OpenGL ES
- 32GB Internal Memory
- 256MB Mobile DDR RAM
- X-Fi Audio Processing
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
- GPS Receiver
- Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
- 3-axis Accelerometer
- HD and VGA Dual Cameras
In all areas the Zii EGG matches or beats Apple’s iPod touch, the product it’s clearly designed to compete with. What’s interesting is that Creative have decided to do this with the help of OEMs rather than going it alone. The wounds inflicted on Creative during the MP3 player wars must still be sore. High-def output is a key selling point of the Zii EGG and iPod touch beater (for now) as is expandable storage, GPS and front and rear facing cameras (a feature thought to be in the next-gen iPod touch too).
Where Creative is missing a trick, aside from the decision to not go it alone, is that software will likely be the key differentiator on any Android-based PMP or Internet tablet or whatever. And so again it seems odd to leave this part of the user experience to third-parties (based on the video below). It’s almost as if Google is providing the generic OS/UI and Creative the generic hardware design (albeit one that is impressive).
Perhaps that’s the best way to look at it: Creative taking the heavy lifting out of building hardware, just as Google has done with building the OS. Either way, as a strategy on Creative’s part, it leaves me scratching my head.