Samsung's Galaxy Players are coming to the United States to do battle with Apple's iPod Touch. And Apple, I'm guessing, couldn't care less.
Sure, the Galaxy Player has some noteworthy features, including a choice of 4- or 5-inch displays and a microSD slot to expand upon 8 GB of built-in storage. Both models also have a 1 GHz processor, 800-by-480 resolution screens and GPS. The 4-inch model even matches the iPod Touch's $229 price. (The 5-inch version costs $269).
But Samsung is arriving way too late on this scene to make a big impact. The market for small touchscreen media players is drying up, thanks to skyrocketing smartphone ownership and the rise of tablets as personal entertainment devices. The remaining market -- mostly smartphone-averse adults and parents who want $200 toys for their children -- isn't exactly fertile ground.
Apple knows this. You can tell by its silence throughout September, when the company has in the past launched new iPods. This year, there was no event. It's possible that Apple is waiting for the iPod's 10th anniversary in October, but the rumor mill has been surprisingly hushed on that front.
Besides, iPod sales were down 20 percent year-over-year last quarter -- the sharpest decline yet. Although Apple doesn't break down iPod sales by device, it's clear that world is moving on to iPhones and iPads.
That's why the late launch of Samsung's Galaxy Player is somewhat puzzling. Samsung was showing off early versions of this device in March, but even then it was hard to get excited. The ideal time for Android media players was a year to two years ago, before tablets took off and while Google's operating system was gaining steam. Now, the Galaxy Player's launch seems doomed to be an afterthought.