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PortalPlayer still an iPod playa?

Marc Perton

Does PortalPlayer -- which lost to Samsung in the contest to provide chips for the next-gen iPod nano -- have a chance of winning back Apple's business as Cupertino gets ready to roll out the next video iPod? And what exactly does Apple have in store for that long-rumored product? Those were the big questions on the lips of analysts at PortalPlayer's first-quarter conference call this week, and CEO Gary Johnson did his best to answer the first question -- and not answer the second one. Any queries about Apple were met with McClellan-esque non-answers, as Johnson insisted that the company couldn't say anything that might reveal information about the plans of its "largest customer" (Johnson wouldn't even mention the company's name). Johnson did, however, tout his latest chip, which he said could do "full high-end video playback" -- something that's not possible with PortalPlayer's 5021 chip, used in the current video-capable iPod. So, is Apple, er, sorry, PortalPlayer's largest customer, going to buy the chip? "We're working to win back that business," Johnson said. Needless to say, Johnson refused to shed any light on Apple's plans, or lack thereof, for the next-gen video iPod, though he did say that his company's video-capable chip is "a product that's available." So, if PortalPlayer's largest customer is in the market for a solution for a new portable media player, now they know where they can find one.

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