Two Digital Music Player announcements in the last week point the way to features that will have long-term impact on the way people use these portable devices. Competing with Apple's iPod on the price/convenience/design equation has been a hard row to hoe. So an alternative is to compete on significant new benefits. The kind of benefits we can expect, based on the announcements, are: more social interaction, so you can communicate and share through the device; and a more dynamic collection of tracks, personalised to your preferences.
People are used to two ways of listening: the radio offers near-zero control of what you hear (though you can always change channels), the CD player offers near-total control of what you hear. Personalised radio services like Pandora, Last.fm and Yahoo's LAUNCHcast are starting to get people used to a more hybrid experience — radio you can tune to your tastes. But these have always been shackled to your computer.