They do but they have a different image from Apple and often times it involves understanding the culture as much as making it sexy.
I think Renegade's post shows exactly why the Chrome analogy is fitting. Was Chrome fitting? Was Chrome revolutionary?
From a power user or developer perspective it's not but from a casual user perspective, it showed what Opera fans wanted Opera's marketing direction to go for a long time and it showed how many fans often expressed how powerful a lite version of Opera is even though Opera's memory consumption is lighter than Firefox despite the added native features.
Similarly, the I-Pad was precisely a tablet which no power user/developer wanted to mass release/pay attention to except for TechCrunch before they lost their rights and Apple.
Even for Apple, the legion of fans prior to the release weren't as hyped about this as say the Iphone or the Ipod.
As a culture there is notably some noise but for the most part the noise from the I-Pad was "will it sell outside of the hardcore base?".
Compared to the Ipod and the Iphone, this time it was the casual consumer market who mostly flocked towards the I-pad. It was this same casual consumer market who don't know how major the I-Pad's flaws where because they were looking for that specific design no matter how outdated.
Basically compared to other products Apple made, few developers saw the I-Pad as revolutionary and that's true but this time it's also true that there's a huge perspective gap between the casual consumer culture and power user culture because unlike the Iphone and Ipod, there really wasn't a revolutionary feature that would attract a borderline Apple user and it was prior to the release perceived as for the hardcore Apple consumers only.
As far as Cowon, the support and firmware for Cowon were very questionable especially early on. This is based on anecdotal accounts I have found over the internet back then.
More importantly, from my perspective, the earlier Cowon were exactly what I wanted but Cowon never built upon that.
Instead like many post-Ipod mp3 manufacturers, they went with sexy and extra features that in the end, lost me compared to what their earlier products were all about. I'm not saying I've personally tried it but similarly I'm also speaking from a guy who wasn't impressed by the Ipod in the first place.
One thing I could respect Apple in that area though was that they built upon the image of the Ipod. For every "sequel" of Ipods, they catered to different needs while staying true to what appeals to the Ipod. They didn't suddenly add touch screen for touch screen's sake. They didn't make a shuffle when people wanted a Nano. In that sense as a casual consumer, they were still the "safest" and most consistent mp3 product releaser despite not being ahead of many opponents.
It's not even that the manufacturers are getting it right now.
Let me refer to this recent review ofthe Cowon V5 HD:http://www.anythingb...won-v5-hd-review.php
What do you get when you pair decent quality audio/video hardware with a head-scratchingly bad user interface, backwards usability, and disregard for anything that makes sense to the average user? Well, a Cowon PMP, of course. While this was true for the Cowon O2 I reviewed a bit over a year ago, I’ve taken it upon me to go through the same pain again, this time with the Cowon V5.
Grahm already wrote a short preview article about the V5. While I agree with his evaluation that the V5 is a nice upgrade to the O2 on the surface, the mess that is hidden beneath when one tries to use the V5 on a daily basis is even worse.
Cowon had a legitimate niche here.
Even as these reviews were written, people understood that Cowon represented quality music. Slowly but surely.
It's for the same reason Creative is respected despite problems with the Zen firmware earlier on or Sandisk Sansa Fuze/Clip (I think) getting a late resurgence.
...but what does Cowon do?
Cowon goes "sexy".
Here are just some red marks:
but Cowon never made much sense with their naming/numbering scheme, so calling the V5 “O3” would have been too logical.
Why? Companies often build products on image. Apple builds image on their product.
The end result is that companies often try to rename a product to appeal to an audience where Apple just stays consistent. They're far from perfect but it's almost possible to separate the image of I-products from Mac-products because of this and it feels less threatening to purchase an Ipod without owning a Mac compared to switching from Windows Mobile to Palm OS.
Casual consumers kind of want that. They want stereotypical labels to comfort their taste and it doesn't hurt that Apple creates the delusion of cool which helps alleviate peer pressure but for the most part it's consistency of labels.
What is an Iphone? An Apple cell phone. What is an Ipod Touch? An Apple mp3 player with touch screen. What is a Nano? A mini-Ipod.
The worst or best part is that they have culture on their side. When Apple messes up with naming their fanbase is there to pick up the slack.
Other companies for the most part don't have that. That's where Apple and Google gets majority of their appeal. They bring their products back to the image of the company rather than the product.
Cowon never seem to care for logical, natural improvements of their housing designs, they appear to rather go at it trial-and-error-style and make every new player iteration slightly different than the last one – for no apparent reason other than for the sake of being different.
Another frustration. Cowon doesn't have a single image like Apple's scroll wheel so it's not that bad of a choice but it is annoying if you found an item that has potential and you're just waiting for the more stable upgrade and what does the company do? Kill your expectations or make do with an upgraded sexier and more expensive item that feels like Vista to 7 when said companies aren't household names yet.
It also comes with yet another unique proprietary USB cable, as is the usual modus operandi of Cowon. Barely any two of their players use the same cables. Comparing that to the standardized world of iPod or Sony Walkman connectors, Cowon’s topsy-turvy approach of seemingly randomly picking their players’ plugs and jacks is very inconvenient. Currently I have five Cowon players in my collection, and I need five different cables to connect them to my PC.
Other companies just don't want to beat the leading product it seems. They want to "imitate" them while adding their extra frustration.
Why Cowon why?! You're so damn close to being the best mp3 player and you pull a stunt like this especially when you're finally getting recognition!!!
The firmware is extremely bad, even by Cowon standards. Mind you, I haven’t tested the infamous Q5W, but I doubt it can have that much lower usability than the V5. The following chapter is about firmware version 1.08, which is already the 8th upgrade since December 2009 – but it doesn’t feel like there was anything of importance fixed since the initial 1.00 firmware.
Windows CE 6 is the underlying operating system on which Cowon superimposed their counterintuitive user interface. Those familiar with ancient Pocket PCs and Windows-powered phones know that Windows CE 6 is an outdated mobile OS resembling Windows 95, with barely working touch screen controls and finger-(un-)friendliness duct-taped on as an afterthought. I assume Win CE is part of the problem the V5 feels rather sluggish and unresponsive at times. It’s just not specialized enough for the V5’s main tasks, audio and video playback, it burns too many cycles on irrelevant background processes and the like. Every time one starts the V5, one sees the Win CE desktop for a few seconds before Cowon’s UI starts. This looks amateurish and not well integrated at all. Not to mention the boot procedure is quite lengthy, despite the V5 not having to build a tag database for its files, as other, faster, players do. It’s borderline amazing that the V5 manages to play 720p videos – since Win CE takes almost a minute to display a folder with about 100 files in Explorer. In that aspect the Cowon O2’s embedded Linux firmware certainly appears to be more polished.
Firmware! Firmware! Firmware!
It'd be nice if every mp3 player comes with "in case we screw this up, you can install Rockbox on this" but no...
Rockbox runs on this:
* Apple: iPod 1g through 5.5g, iPod Mini and iPod Nano 1g
* Archos: Jukebox 5000, 6000, Studio, Recorder, FM Recorder, Recorder V2 and Ondio
* Cowon: iAudio X5, X5V, X5L, M5, M5L, M3 and M3L
* iriver: iHP100 series, H100 series, H300 series and H10 series
* Olympus: M:Robe 100
* Packard Bell: Vibe 500
* SanDisk: Sansa c200 series (not v2), e200 series (all models), and Fuze v1 (not v2)
* Toshiba: Gigabeat X and F series
or unstably at this:
...and guess what?
Cowon releases D2+ with minor upgrades, but why?http://asia.cnet.com...post.htm?id=63009116
Cowon seems to have made a great move with its latest models, the Cowon S9 and O2, in the current economic situation where consumers are not spending much money on buying gadget stuff. Local media have reported that Cowon is having a tough time with demand for the Cowon S9, which lets us know that sales for the player is going well here.
All of a sudden, Cowon released the Cowon D2+ with a few upgrades like JetEffect (BBE+ from BBE), GUI and colors. These three features are the only differences I can spot from the specifications.
I guess most of us were expecting the Cowon D3 and not the D2+ since we saw what kind of performance Cowon can create from its devices lately
After Win CE finishes booting, the unsuspecting user is slapped in the face by the visual insult that is the main screen of the V5. It’s basically the color-scheme equivalent of a Disneyland parade, paired with the cheerfulness of an episode of the TV show Pokémon. It would fit perfectly as the main screen of a Nintendo game, but for a portable video player it’s rather inappropriate in its gut-wrenching tackiness. I can’t even imagine what target demographic the designers had in mind when they created that stuff – but I probably wouldn’t want to know that anyway. Somehow I can’t imagine 12 year old Korean girls having much use for a player that sports a 5-band semi-parametric audio EQ or handles 720p Matroska containers. While the Cowon O2 looks antiquated like a ten years old Linux distro, the V5 overshoots the mark by trying to be “funny” and “cute” – yet only results in giving me stomach cramps when I look at it.
Ones step forward, two steps back. I’m very disappointed by the Cowon V5 as a whole. One would think Cowon would have used the last year or two to rethink their PMP plans and improve on the botched O2. Yet the V5 has just a better screen, working 720p playback, and better battery life – but most of the usability shortcomings of the O2 are still here, and a few new, aggravating flaws have been added. Oh, and the V5’s kitschy interface design is just too insulting to even mention.
Story of other companies' inability to beat out Apple products despite their none-revolutionary flaws.
The worse part is that there's always something justifiably right about the companies action.
Example: assuming what this commentor said is true:
This is a... well a review. I feel obligated to speak up for Cowon. (well a little) I don't think this is a replacement or upgrade of the O2, instead I think it's the replacement for the Q5W. I say this because this is how the player is being marketed. Also, the Q5W (which I own) has a LOT of the same flaws. but the user interface is much easier to use and actually makes sense. Also the Q5W has a pretty good implementation of CE-5 and WiFi so I can actually use it to play music off of my laptop when both devices are on on my network. It kind of works like a netbook. The Q5W even has a mini version of windows media player that can be used to play videos that the Cowon media player won't play. It is also a USB host so I can add a mouse and keyboard (kind of needed to get the most out of windows media player), or a usb drive for additional storage. It has little word processor (word pad I think) that can be handy for taking notes. The Q5W also has a mobile version of internet explorer so it can be used to surf the web, I have actually done online banking on it, and even ordered a Domino's pizza with it. It boots up MUCH faster than my windows machine so quick browsing to simple sites like gmail or google are pretty easy. The browser has flaws a plenty but when used as intended its kind of cool. The Q5W also has a digital output that works with both music and video, and it uses a common USB cable for connection to a PC. From what I read on the Cowon Korean site there is a P5 that is pretty much the Q5w with a slightly modified body. After reading this I guess I might have helped make the reviewers point the V5 isn't a replacement for anything in the Cowon line. The Q5W has it's issues, but because of it's better implementation of CE and WiFi, Bluetooth (stereo!) and USB host feature. it has some virtues that sort of redeem it from it's lousy audio player features. the V5 doesn't seem to have any of the Q5W's virtues but has all of it's flaws. Kind of a mess of a player, but oddly, I still kind of want one....
The big problem? They never convey that to their buyers and sometimes it's not about what Apple polishes as a turd but Apple simply being more open to the media about their turd assuming what they're releasing are turds.