Samsung to bolster ties with partners to rival iPod

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Samsung to bolster ties with partners to rival iPod
SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, striving to make up ground on Apple's popular iPod, said on Thursday it will offer technical support to its online music partners such as Napster to help sales of its portable music players.

But the South Korean firm, which pioneered the introduction of MP3 digital music players before squandering a lead in the fast-growing and profitable market, said on Thursday it was not planning to launch its own online music download services.

"We're not interested in the online music services market but we plan to offer technical support to our partners to make their services easier and fancier and that would increase our hardware sales," Choi Gee-sung, the president of Samsung's digital media division told reporters after a meeting with analysts.

iTunes, Apple Computer's online content download service, has helped drive sales of iPod music players because the service and related software offer iPod owners an easy way to download music, store it on their PC and then transfer it to the music player for playback.

"I believe our music players are compatible with iPod but our partners have failed to provide competitive software like iTunes," Choi said.

Its partners include Napster, Microsoft and Yahoo's Yahoo Music.

Samsung, the world's most valuable technology firm outside of the United States, has been striving to win over customers from dominant Apple and aims to treble its MP3 player sales to more than five million units this year.

But the target is still a sixth of the expected 2005 sales of rival Apple.

California-based Apple has about 70 percent of the digital music device and music download markets, analysts said.

Apple sold more than 500 million songs in 19 countries since it introduced the music download service in the United States over two years ago and launched its iTunes online music store in Japan in August.


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