Feeds

Microsoft moots 'universal' MP3 player dock

Or, how to beat Apple's iPod by leveraging 'open' standards

Boost IT visibility and business value

Analysis The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has established a working group to develop a universal docking standard for portable devices, the US-centric organisation announced this week.

The move is being driven by Microsoft - at least, the software giant is the only company to be granted quotation space on the CEA press release, and there's a Microsoft staffer in the working group's chair. It's not hard to see why. Having failed to beat the iPod using proprietary technology - the Windows Media format - it's try to beat it using a sharper weapon: the open standard it defines.

Apple's iPod owes its success to many factors, not least of which is the company's decision to develop the player's dock connector. Where other music player makers have simply stuck in a USB port and and left it at that, the proprietary dock connector has provided the perfect foundation for a whole range of iPod accessories that have, in turn, helped the small white player on its way to mainstream market dominance.

Like so many great inventions, the dock was born out of necessity, almost certainly Apple's need to support both the USB 2.0 and FireWire connectivity types in the same small unit without building two separate ports into the player. Ironically, the latest iPods no longer support FireWire for data transfers, and we can't help wondering if that had been the case three generations of iPod ago, the dock connector would never have made it to shipping product.

Perhaps recalling what happened in the Palm world, Apple has also been willing to allow other firms to license the dock connector mechanical and electrical specifications, and that too has made it much easier for third-party manufacturers to knock up iPod-specific devices, boosting the so-called 'iPod ecosystem' for which Apple likes to claim credit.

Car makers are starting to put the dock connector into their vehicles and it's already turned up in a broad array of docking cradles, speaker rigs, remote control systems, wireless connectivity tools and more.

Almost none of which, of course, are available for music players based on Windows Media. In particular, the automobile interfaces, which is probably why Microsoft is making so much of that side of the universal dock concept as it is. Think how big, how sexy the car industry is.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Déjà vu: Virgin Media jacks up broadband prices
Screw copper phone lines, we're UNIQUE, bleats telco
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
What's the nature of your emergency, Vodafone?
Oh, you've dialled the wrong number for ad fibs, rules ASA
EE network whacked by 'PDP authentication failure' blunder
Carrier is 'aware' of cockup, working on a fix NOW
ROAD TRIP! An FCC road trip – Leahy demands net neutrality debate across US
You crashed watchdog's site, now time to crash its ears
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.