iClone, therefore iPod

I love portable gadgets, and I love the iPod. One thing that’s surprised me is how long it’s taken for vendors to introduce iPod clones. Creative recently introduced the first significant challenger to the iPod throne with their Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen. (It’s cruel when parents give their children silly names, isn’t it?)

The Zen supports FireWire and USB (not USB 2.0, sadly). The design is fine, if unimaginative. For $300 including rebate, you get 20 GB of storage vs. 5 GB for an iPod at the same price.

One of the reasons it’s cheaper is because it uses a 2.5-inch hard drive (the iPod uses a 1.8-inch hard drive). Because of this, the Zen has a Buddha-like weight and size issues — it’s 25% heaver, 20% wider, 10% taller and 13% deeper than the larger 20 GB iPod (which I find myself wishing was just a bit lighter and smaller as I pet it lovingly in my local Apple Store).

If you’re wondering how big a business this is, Apple sold 140,000 iPods this quarter (54,000 of them for Windows).