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Wednesday, June 03, 2009, 02:25 pm PT (05:25 pm ET)

SanDisk CEO concedes that Apple's iPod has won the war

Since the debut of the first iPod in 2001, almost every consumer technology company has tried to create an “iPod killer” to outsell it. SanDisk is one of those companies with its Sansa line of media players, but founder and CEO Eli Harari has now admitted that the iPod has sovereignty.

The company's chief appeared to concede defeat on Wednesday, stating at his company's Milpitas, California headquarters that Apple had effectively secured the market for itself.

“You can’t out-iPod the iPod,” Harari said.

The seeming admission came after years of fiercer competition between SanDisk and Apple that culminated in a negative "iDon't" ad campaign: the former actively insulted iPod owners by accusing them of slavishly following trends rather than thinking for themselves.

SanDisk offers several models in its Sansa line, with traits that often correspond with models in Apple’s iPod lineup. But while SanDisk has had some firsts relative to the iPod, such as the first 8GB flash player on the market, the Sansa players have lacked companion music store and software to present a formidable challenge to the iPod, not to mention the complete absence of a touchscreen device a year and a half after the debut of the iPod touch.

To date, SanDisk has had such little relative success in unseating Apple that its competition has stemmed from Microsoft, whose Zune line has regularly placed third in the market and has been more likely to steal share from Apple's competitors than Apple itself.

Meanwhile, iPod sales and performance continue to be strong. The company recently sold over 11 million iPods during the winter, a new unit record for a non-holiday quarter. According to NPD data, Apple’s digital media player market share continues to stay above 70 percent within the US.