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iRiver's future: WiBro gaming or bust

Marc Perton

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We have a soft spot for some of iRiver's digital media players, even if they've largely gotten lost in a crowded marketplace. But we may not be seeing too many new models from the company. Faced with the evaporation of its market share, both at home in Korea and in the crucial US marketplace, iRiver is attempting to remake itself as a vendor of portable WiBro gaming consoles. The transition is likely to be a bumpy one. Although iRiver showed off its first gaming console, the G10 (now renamed the Wing), several months ago, that model continues to face delays, and is now expected to show up no sooner than the end of the year, and then, in all likelihood, only in Korea. Sure, the Wing has some tasty features, including a 4-inch LCD, compatibility with most common audio and video formats, WiFi, WiBro and 6GB NAND flash memory. But at an initial price of about $315, it'll be competing directly against dozens of cheaper Korean DMB PMPs, hard drive-equipped players from vendors like Apple and Creative, and gaming consoles like the DS Lite, which will be on the market in Korea well before the end of the year, at a price well below $315. Still, iRiver probably has little choice but to try something drastic: the company's sales have plummeted from close to $1 billion two years ago to just $39 million in the first quarter of this year. We'll be sure to check out the Wing -- and, in the meantime, we'll be on the lookout for fire sale pricing on the Clix.

Read - iRiver's strategy
Read - G10 specs
Read - Wing delays (sub reqd)

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