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11/10/2008
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Dell Reportedly Nixes Digital Music Player For The Holidays

The potential iPod competitor would have been based on entertainment software from Zing Systems.

Dell has reportedly decided not to release a digital music player before the holiday shopping season.

The new product would have been based on Dell's entertainment software, making the package a potential competitor to Apple's highly successful iPod player. However, the Wall Street Journal, quoting a person familiar with the matter, reported Monday that the computer maker has decided to hold off on shipping an MP3 player indefinitely.

Dell was not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this year, Dell was testing prototypes of the MP3 player, which would have been based on entertainment software from Zing Systems. Dell bought Zing last year and plans to use the technology for organizing and downloading movies and music across multiple products, including notebooks and desktops.

The Journal first reported in July that Dell was working on a portable media player. At the time, a Dell spokesman told InformationWeek that an MP3 player was under consideration, but a decision about whether to launch such a product had not been made.

Dell launched a line of MP3 music players in 2003, but poor sales prompted the company to pull the plug in 2006. Dell has had little luck with other consumer electronics outside of PCs, such as big-screen TVs, which it stopped selling last year.

Since the return of founder Michael Dell as chief executive early last year, the company has embarked on a consumer PC strategy that stresses "personalization," which has mostly translated into more stylish designs and multimedia capabilities common in the industry. Developing and pre-installing software that would tie multiple Dell devices to a variety of entertainment services on the Web would broaden the concept of personalization by giving customers more options to configure their computers to their needs.

No matter how Dell approaches the market for portable entertainment services and devices, it's sure to butt heads eventually with Apple, which accounts for more than 70% of the United States MP3 player market. Apple's iTunes online music store has surpassed Wal-Mart Stores as the leading music retailer in the United States.

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