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9/21/2005
06:50 PM
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Dell Launches iPod Competitor

The PC vendor has introduced the 'DJ Ditty,' meant to take on the iPod Shuffle, and is promoting it through extremely low-key means.

Dell Inc. on Wednesday said it was primarily using a word-of-mouth campaign in marketing the DJ Ditty, a digital music player competing with Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod Shuffle.

The Ditty, which is about the size of a stick of gum and is a half-inch thick, holds up to 220 songs and includes an FM tuner and a LCD screen. Apple has been criticized for not including the last two features in the Shuffle.

Liem Nguyen, spokesman for the Round Rock, Texas, computer maker, said the Ditty, which sells for $99, marked the first time Dell has used a word-of-mouth ad campaign to sell a product. During more traditional product launches, Dell will advertise in print media and catalogs.

"It's the first time we're using a word-of-mouth campaign to drive interest, instead of a traditional ad campaign," Nguyen said.

Besides a banner ad on its own Web site, and getting the word out through employees and focus groups of customers, Dell has also launched a multimedia DJ Ditty Web site targeting teenagers and young adults.

As to why Dell chose not to make a bigger push for the Ditty, Liem wasn't very clear, saying only that the company "felt it was the ideal product" for word of mouth.

To challenge the market-leading iPod line of digital music players, however, Dell may need a bigger campaign. The Apple device accounts for more than three-fourths of the digital music players bought by consumers.

The biggest differentiator of the Ditty is that it plays music protected by Microsoft Corp.'s digital rights management technology, which is used by online music sites supporting the Windows Media Player. The iPod plays tunes downloaded from Apple's iTunes music software, but doesn't play music using Microsoft's DRM.

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