(0:40 - Steve Jobs acknowledge that there are "small players like Creative ..." but yet no market leader in the digital music revolution. 1:24 - We see a Creative NOMAD® Jukebox on the screen as Steve Jobs goes through the different choices of music players available at that time.)
On October 2001, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPod to a small audience at a low key Apple Music Event whom gave a rather lukewarm response. You could almost hear the inner voices of audience that went "Hasn't Creative done that already?" Some of you might not know this but the birth of the Apple iPod was no doubt "inspired" by the Creative NOMAD® Jukebox.
A timeline of key events:
2000 - January - Creative presented the first NOMAD® Jukebox prototype at CES 2000.
2001 - January - Creative shipped 100,000 units of the NOMAD® Jukebox. Creative and Apple executed a Driver Code License and Distribution Agreement, granting Apple a license to Creative’s driver source code so that the NOMAD Jukbox is supported by iTunes. Steve Jobs approached Creative at the MacWorld Tradeshow and indicated that Apple wanted a smaller version of the NOMAD Jukebox digital music player. Creative filed for patent for its automatic hierarchical categorization of music by metadata.
2001 - Febuary - Creative met with Apple representatives, including Steve Jobs, to further explore ways in which the companies could work together. Creative showed Apple several prototype portable digital media players that showed the ZEN patent interface. Apple led Creative into believing that it would be a joint business venture when Apple abruptly indicated that Creative should license its technology to Apple or spin off its PDE business into a separate business entity and Apple would invest in it. Creative declined the offer.
2001 - October - About 9 months later, Apple introduced the iPod stating that it “has applied its legendary expertise in human interface engineering to make iPod the easiest to use digital device ever.”
2005 - August - Creative was awarded U.S patent on its invention of user interface for portable media players which Creative refers to as the ZEN Patent.
2006 - May - Creative seeks U.S. International Trade Commission Injunction against Apple. "The orders sought would prohibit Apple Computer Inc. from engaging in sales, marketing, importation or sale after importation into the United States, or other infringing activities in the United States with regard to the infringing iPod and iPod Nano products." Apple counter sued Creative, accusing it of infringing 4 of its patents. Creative was taken aback by it as "“At no time during these discussions or at any other time did Apple mention to us the patents it raised in its lawsuit.” said Phil O’Shaughnessy.
2006 - June - U.S. International Trade Commission voted to institute an investigation of Apple iPod for infringement of Creative's ZEN Patent. The news was carried on all major newspapers and website around the world as the world watches if Creative would succeed in its lawsuit. Prior to this, countless lawsuits against Apple hasn't been successful.
2006 - August - Apple & Creative Announce Broad Settlement Ending Legal Disputes Between the Companies. Apple will pay Creative a one time payment of USD$100 million to use the ZEN Patent. It will also drop its lawsuits against Creative. Besides the $100 million settlement, Creative also joined the Made For iPod programme which allow it to manufacture accessories for iPod.
The PDE market is a highly voilatile and cut throat industry and Creative has came a long way since the release of the NOMAD Jukebox. Even as big companies like Samsung, Sony and Microsoft had little success in dethroning as the market leader, Creative is still very much a credible player in the market despite its quarters of less than stellar financial results. As the saying goes, "At the end of the day, the fact that we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate."