Neil Young, “Harvest Moon” man and one fourth of supergroup “Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young,” has some audio equipment to sell you. But no, it’s not a guitar or speakers -- it’s a music player.
Young’s Kickstarter-backed creation, called the “PonoPlayer,” doesn’t directly comptere with the iPod -- that would be a losing battle. Instead, the PonoPlayer, coupled with its own unnamed music service -- I’m going to go with “PonoMusic,” like the company’s name -- is set to provide a niche in the audio community - by providing only high quality music files.
Unlike most digital music services, PonoMusic will provide FLAC files - slightly compressed audio files that dwarf the size of conventionally used MP3s. What this means is that, while MP3s’ small file sizes are great for storage management, their compressed nature means that bits of the original music file - usually recorded in a format called WAV - are lost.
To the average consumer, this isn’t an issue - and it’s why the PonoPlayer isn’t competing with the iPod. But for an audiophile, this offers a direct way to buy and manage high quality libraries of music.
Will this radicalize the way the masses purchase and store music? Nah. It’s for the kind of person who eschews iPods and surround sound systems in favor of vinyls and a record player.
Or if they do embrace digital media, they want the best quality files they can carry. And while the iPod can play even the best files (.WAV), the iTunes store only sells songs in MP3 format.