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Gates backs Dell iPod skepticism

Windows v Mac all over again?

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Are players in the Wintel alliance ganging against Apple Computer's iPod in the battle for control of the MP3 business? Seems that way.

Bill Gates has predicted the demise of stand-alone MP3 players like Apple's iPod at the hands of mobile phones that combine functionality and - presumably - run Windows.

To drive home the point, Gates drew a parallel with fight for the corporate desktop between Windows and the Macintosh OS.

"You can make parallels with computers: Apple was very strong in this field before, with its Macintosh and its graphics user interface - like the iPod today, and then lost its position," Gates is quoted as telling leading German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Of course, Gates has an interest in making such statements in the week his company released the latest version of Windows for mobile devices - Windows Mobile 5.0. Launching Windows Mobile 5.0 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Gates claimed 40 handset manufacturers are shipping 68 types of device running Windows.

Gates' comments, though, echo statements by Dell chief executive Kevin Rollins in January. Rollins, whose company's Digital Jukebox is also battling the iPod and whose PCs helped transport Windows to success against Apple on the desktop, was quoted as calling the iPod a passing fad.

There's certainly a lot to play for. JupiterReserach expects six per cent of adults will purchase an iPod during the next year while other manufactures like Dell and Creative Labs are close behind in people's purchasing choices - four per cent expect to buy a hard drive-based model from another manufacturer like Dell. Jupiter expects the total market of MP3 players to reach 56.1 million devices by 2010, up from 16.2 million last year.

And the rot would seem to be setting in on Apple's market share. iPod's is currently around 87.3 per cent of the market, down from a peak of 92%, according to market research firm NPD Group.®

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