August 14, 2006 We just can’t get over how hot MP3 players are at present. From being non-existent just a handful of years ago, portable audio player sales last year hit US$5 billion in the United States, which comes into perspective when you find out that the combined home and automotive market for fixed audio systems was US$5.11 billion. Whatsmore, the MP3 market is expected to more than double again by 2009.
Then consider that the market leader (Apple’s iPod) has 75% of the market, despite offering no functional advantage beyond the user interface and charges a significant premium for its products. It seems logical then that the contenders are lining up with killer pricing strategies. We’ve already reported on the world’s cheapest MP3 player, but expect that with the price of flash memory continuing to fall, we’re going to see some outrageous bargains over the next few years and here’s another to start you thinking. The Chinese 1GB Ainol V3 is half an inch thick, supports all major formats, has a 1.3-inch 160 x 129 screen, FM radio, USB 2.0, miniSD slot and retails for US$69 in China (US$50 for the 512MB version).