iRiver, the first major media-player manufacturer to offer players that are compatible with MP3, WMA, ASF, WAV and OGG music file formats, is the company most likely to be able to take on Apple in the media-player space, but are looking to dominate elsewhere, according to a report.

But iRiver president Jonathan Sasse has no plans to take the crown from Apple. He told TechNewsWorld: "Apple can keep the iPod crown. The portable entertainment crown is still up for grabs, and we have our sights set squarely upon it."

Sasse says: "At this point, there are very few companies that have a product line that rivals iRiver. Without question, Apple has done a great job marketing their solution and the industry as a whole has benefited from that, but our strategy is entirely different.

"We aim to produce the best devices possible, in multiple categories, supporting multiple formats and services so our customers can always choose what is best for them."

"Our customers are looking for flexibility to choose the options that best suit their needs. By favouring the secure Windows Media format, it opens up the opportunity for competition in services, ultimately providing our customers with multiple libraries, service options, and payment structures to choose from."

Looking to the future

"We believe there are many different consumer needs that need to be met with the right product; as such, our product line has something for everyone, whereas other companies may take the approach of one product for everyone," said Sasse.

iRiver, like Gateway and Microsoft has plans to move into the living room with a Media Centre-type device. "As the Media Centre systems make their way into the living room, and out of the office, there are still devices that will be needed to keep that content mobile. The iRiver Portable Media Centre product launching in the second half of this year will begin that process. Home products of this kind are still very much in their infancy, but portable integration with these solutions is still a very important value add," he said.

Sasse makes the following prediction for ten-years-time: "I see two types of highly evolved entertainment devices. There will be a strong play for very small audio devices, perhaps which fit nicely in your ear, without the need for wires or cables, and possibly doubling as your cell phone earpiece when you aren't on the treadmill. Portable video will make gains with the display, either with visual glasses for personal use, or advanced display technologies enabling several people to enjoy a single portable device.

"I do believe the business and entertainment will remain mostly separated on specialized devices for each respective function. With cell phones picking up the PDA, Internet and commerce functions, and portable entertainment devices evolving the video, audio, and gaming experience."