The reason for (eventually) having to do an open sourced hw player is that all the currently available players which were reverse-engineered will soon be out of production and no longer available on the used market.
(Well, used 1g-5.5g ipods will probably be available for a LONG time because so many of the damn things were made. Replacement parts are even still available.)
But other players of choice such as Gigabeats will eventually dry up. Only the Sansa E200's and C200's are currently being made. Hopefully the new Sansa view will not be a locked down, un-rockbox-able DRMed monster.
So if we want to have a platform for an open source player to run on, eventually some form of open hw player WILL be needed.