Why doesn't music companies realise that in order to beat Apple, they need to seriously invest into product development.
Apple's iPod succeeds because it's cooler, useful and much more classier than all other music players outplayer, even for a simple Nano.
This is a similar situation to Nintendo's Gameboy. It's a premium gaming device that has a premium price attached to it with a stranglehold on all the top games. Sony went into this market with it's PSP which was a class higher than the Gameboy. I think in hindsight, it's launch and resulting sales was quite successful.
Likewise, Microsoft went to compete with the Playstation and the Nintendo Gamecube with it's Xbox. It went to become a cost leader, and with it's huge piggy bank, this was acceptable in return for a huge chunk of the gaming industry. I think while it made losses, it's quite justified in the long run.
So why don't music companies launch a product that's even classier than the iPod. For one, I know this is achievable. With the right investment and dedication, the human mind is almost limitless. Reasons that come to mind include: 1) Not enough money to invest. 2) Waiting for a better opportunity. 3) Inability to collude successfully.
I figure companies are thinking hard and testing to see what they can do but the longer they wait, the more penetration Apple will achieve in the music industry. The low end market of the industry is not really worth the effort if they want something big and to compete head on with a product similar to the iPod is quite futile as we have seen with Zune (Seriously, what a lame name. Based on the name alone, you'll know it'll never beat the iPod).
So launch something superior in quality focusing on the high end and eventually dropping it down to tackle the iPod with economy class products. If it gains enough coverage and class, I would even consider despite the fact that I'm a poor ass student. For example, Louise Vuitton is considered a luxury in many parts but in big cities in China many consider it mediocre.
Apple's iPod reign must be brought to an end soon. It might bring an end to itself but that's gonna take a while. Companies must compete to bring its downfall quicker. The risks are quite clear and the poor attempts has been made (Zune...). Be brave, be revolutionary. Of course, in today's market where people fear risk-taking, I seriously can't forsee how iPod's doom will be speeded up.
I think I'll have to be satisfied with the boring iPod for now... and it's extremely priced parts. For a replacement earphone, it costs a fricking $48. For twice that, I can buy another damned iPod.