MD versus MP3

The biggest advantage of an MP3 player over MD is its technology. With no moving parts, the result is lengthy playback time (12 hours with one AA battery), incredibly small size (smaller than a deck of cards), quick transfer rate (copying from your computer to MP3 player takes a few minutes) and almost infinite shock-resistance (it will never skip). The prices are very competitive with current MD prices. However, there is a downside to MP3 players’ technology. If you get tired of the same 14 or 15 songs that fit on a 64 megabyte player, you can not change easily.

In contrast, blank 74-minute MDs cost only i?? 2 , so you could feasibly carry four or five MDs to have some a variety of music. MD versus DVD audio: DVD Audio has just begun to hit the market and sounds like new technology. Although most of us are familiar with DVD movies, we are not aware that their goal is to “provide a single format for the audio-visual market”. Indeed, of all the technologies discussed thus far, DVD Audio is the only one to offer an improvement in sound quality. In addition, all DVD machines are “backward compatible” and can play old music CDs.

It seems that in the face of DVD Audio, MDs have only an advantage in there small size. What do we consider to be the next step that Sony should take in terms of innovation and NPD? Next step in term of innovation and NPD There are three approaches of future innovation about Audio recorders. The first is based on an empowerment of MD. The second should be able to substitute the former. The third will use diversification and empowerment (first approach) to develop a new type of MD recorder which will be a real NPD. We are going to analyse these three possibilities of MD’s evolution.

The walkman Minidisc is becoming lighter and thinner, it is following the classic development of Walkman CD players. In this quest of streamlining, the need of new materials (such as carbon, titan etc… ), new components, even lighter and efficient, are sought. We can imagine that the next innovation in term of conception will be small because of the current level of performance. The comfort of use will also be better and will out date the previous trade mark models. The main Walkman MD’s problem is the lack of capacity of its batteries.

SONY should try to improve the quality of its lithium batteries to make its device more attractive. Scientists are now developing new type of energy providers such as combustion batteries. This kind of battery will allow walkman MD’s to work for more than a month. So it could be useful integrating this kind of innovation into this product to make it more efficient. Flash memory capacity follows Moore’s law (a doubling of capacity every 18 months), this means that in 2004 a device with 16 times the capacity of today’s Rio (32MB) would be available.

Such a device could hold 8 hours of high quality audio. So the capacity of MD recorder will be much higher than the today’s 74 minutes. SONY has to launch a new product able to read the previous format and a new broader one which will allow storing more than 2 or 3 hours of Audio. The increase of capacity will allow a strategy of diversification for the MD. In fact, these larger MD formats were intended for general data storage but would have also allowed the development of new devices, such as a MiniDisc Camcorder which could make video editing as simple and easy as MD audio editing.

It will also allow storing photographs like a mini hard disc. It will be still possible to record audio. At the turn of the millennium we are in the middle of the Information Revolution. The increasing penetration of computing and networking infrastructure, will allow to access to music wireless network. The convergence of these two technologies will be a strategy of co-branding with line providers to create a real new device.

Imagine a powerful MD recorder able to connect itself to internet (by a network such as the WAP but more powerful) to download the latest music, video clips etc… Nevertheless this NPD need, first of all, an empowerment. This alliance will clarify the uses of MD to customer: a portable player to provide any music whatsoever desired. In some respects this represents an ideal: an individual’s choice of music, anytime, anywhere, with no more to carry than a pocket phone. When this device is a reality, MD will indeed seem old-fashioned.

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