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Creative finally comes clean on MP3 player

Nomad due in June with full Web content support

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Creative Technology officially announced its upcoming portable MP3 player this weekend. Readers will recall that Creative first discussed the player, being developed under the codename Project Nomad and set to compete head to head with Diamond Multimedia's Rio PMP300, earlier this year. Then the company denied. Then it admitted it was working on such a device (see Creative Labs spins multiple music player plans). The official announcement, made at the New York Music and Internet Expo, confirmed that Nomad will play MP3 files, as predicted here. When news of the device first emerged, Creative's European brand manager, Eion Leyden, hinted that MP3 might not be the player's prime format. He claimed MP3 "would not rule the roost," he said, clearly a nod towards the music industry's attempt to define its own digital music standard through the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI). However, Creative is clearly fed up of waiting. Hock Loew, VP of Creative's Multimedia Division, said: "The market doesn't wait for legal standards to be met... You have to be able to roll with the technology." The SDMI recently said it will have its format specced up and ready to use in time for vendors to ramp up sales for Christmas 99. However, the draft specification will be released in the summer. Once the SDMI has finalised it proposals, it will open the digital music player market to the consumer electronic giants who have been holding back from the market because of both its highly controversial nature and the wide range of available music formats -- none of them yet a clear winner. Getting in ahead of these companies has to be a vital part of Creative's plan. The first Nomad is due to ship in June for under $200. It will be backed up through Creative's Inspire Web site, which will provide content and links to other MP3 providers. This approach mirrors Diamond's strategy with Rio, and is seen to be essential to gaining support for the device beyond MP3's core audience of computer buffs. ®

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