SanDisk’s WiFi vision

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I wrote a column today for on the new SanDisk Sansa Connect, a WiFi-powered digital music player that hit store shelves earlier this month. It’s not a review of the player, so don’t expect to find any information about battery life, user-friendliness or the like. If you’re looking for that, go here for a roundup. Instead, I look at what it means to add real WiFi capability (as opposed to what Microsoft put in its Zune players) to a digital audio player, and how the Connect may signal the beginning of the post-iPod era.

I thought it was odd that the player made its debut with little or no fanfare, outside of a spate of news stories and reviews. There was more publicity for Apple selling its 100 millionth iPod than for the debut of the Connect -- neither Walt Mossberg of the Journal and David Pogue of the NY Times, who pounce on every new Apple product, uttered a word about the device last week. The answer offered by Yahoo, SanDisk’s partner in the launch, is that the player arrived in stores more than a week earlier than expected. Ooops! If SanDisk really wants to take on Apple, it’s going to have to come quite a bit closer to replicating that company’s marketing muscle and savvy.