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Apple turned to Creative for iPod help

updated 09:05 pm EDT, Wed June 7, 2006

Apple turned to Creative?

Although Apple CEO Steve Jobs' marketing genius may have popularlized the iPod, Creative was the leader in the MP3 player market, garnering the attention of Apple before its launched own iPod. Locked in an ongoing legal battle, the two companies are facing a long road ahead, and have not only turned to the courts, but also the U.S. International Trade Commission. After a breakdown in talks, Creative fired first with a lawsuit alleging violation of the "Zen Patent," while Apple coutersued and then filed an additional copyright lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.. A new Wall Street Journal report claims that the Cupertino-based company turned first to Creative [subscription required] before releasing its own iPod.

According to the report, the lawsuit says that in early 2001, Apple was hoping to either license Creative's technology or jointly invest in a new company that would further develop Creative's MP3 player products.

A protracted legal battle could hurt the chances of the Singapore-based Creative Technology as Apple could try to outspend Creative, according to analysts. Analysts told the publication that, if true, the inability to strike a deal with Apple in 2001 cost the company dearly. Through the end of April, Apple had a 77 percent share of the U.S. portable-MP3-player market, according to the report: the remaining four competitors, including Creative, have less than 10 percent each, according to market-research group NPD.

According to documents obtained by the WSJ, the lawsuit claims that Jobs "approached a Creative employee at the January 2001 MacWorld trade show and praised the Nomad MP3 player. The two discussed a possible meeting, and Mr. Jobs 'indicated Apple wanted a smaller version' of the Nomad, according to Creative's filings. The next month, according to the suit, Creative executives met again with Mr. Jobs. The suit says Apple offered its two proposals at this time, but Creative declined both overtures." In October of the same year, Apple introduced its first iPod.

by MacNN Staff




  1. porieux

    Joined: Dec 1969


    diamond not creative

    It was diamond who innovated the portable MP3 player with their RIO, not Creative who have never been a major player in this space.

  1. LouZer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: diamond

    Creative was the leader in hard drive products at the time.

  1. Neub Detat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The only good thing

    The only good thing that Creative has ever created is the Audigy Soundblaster. And that's coming from a Singaporean.

  1. Terrin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    British Guy Invented Idea

    Actually, both Creative and Rio borrowed the idea from a British inventor who originally patented the idea in 1979. The poor guy could not afford to renew the International patents before he was able to bring the product to market.

    Once he lost the patent, and when technology advanced, other's took his idea and made a bundle from it. The guy himself did not make a dime. Creative's patent, however, is over it's user interface, not the hardware.,13274,1315599,00.html

  1. cvbcvb

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Turned Down...

    Creative turns Apple down to make a player and Sony turned down Apple to partner on the iTunes Music Store...

    Itís not like Apple had a go-it-alone/our way or the highway strategy - it just came about out of necessity.


  1. abnyc

    Joined: Dec 1969


    diamond / rio

    i had a diamond rio pmp 500 w 256 mb in like 97. they were the first with mp3 players on the market using the interface that we have all grown to know and love in the ipod. granted its advanced greatly and is now color etc.. even still .. apple innovated the market .. hands down.

  1. phillymjs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Wow, now that's news

    I bet the Creative executive(s) who shot down those proposals feel pretty stupid, since Apple went on to eat Creative's lunch, dinner and following morning's breakfast in the market and turned Creative into an also-ran.

    As for Sony, I'm sure the decisionmakers there didn't lose any sleep over it-- those guys will never admit (or learn from) mistakes, that's why they keep doing dumb things trying to foist proprietary formats on the market and shipping music discs with rootkits on them.


  1. Deal

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The Writing on the Wall

    Creative will soon figure out what it's in for and settle. I can't imagine them not. One way or another they will loose.

    The Apple patents which are hardware design based and easy to copy write and prove, will stand.

    The user interface was patent should never have been awarded. It's a most hierarchical database, the most simple database ever designed and is in use in one form or another all over the world. All Creative did was use it on a music player.

    Where do the people in these patent offices come from?

    One thing is certain. If Apple had not innovated music players, they would still be in the dark ages.

  1. norville

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Of course we're not privy to what the proposals presented by Mr. Jobs actually were. Maybe they were turned down because (at the time) they seemed to unfairly favor Apple, and not compensate Creative as much as they thought made sense. Of course with hindsight it's easy to see that Apple's ideas were spot on, and anybody would have been crazy not to partner with them on this. But at the time, Creative knew they had a great product, and Apple's ideas were untested.

  1. ronjamin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    So your telling me....

    So your telling me that if I praise someone at a trade show, and say "lets meet", then decline to meet because I made something better, that the company I praised has a right to my stuff?????

    Listen, the real story here is that the LAWYERS for Creative think that they can extort money from Apple. It's the way things are done. The Beatles are even doing it, so why not Creative?

    LAWYERS are vampires.

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