Sunday, August 21, 2005

Portable Media Players May Struggle to Find Market

Reuters examines whether there is a market for portable media players, especially as a number of companies enter the market in hopes of creating the next iPod-like success. Due to the need for a larger screen and storage, the article notes that many of the devices on the market today are costlier and larger than music players, which might hold back market adoption.

Van Baker at Gartner said, "In many ways, I do view portable media players as a technology in search of a market. If I'm carrying music with me, chances are I want to carry something that's a little smaller than a personal music player."

Another Baker, NPD Group analyst Stephen Baker, noted the current challenge to "download and manage movies and television shows, a problem that iPod solved for the music world."

"Downloading long videos is still not super easy to do and doesn't save you a heck of a lot of time over going to the video store, renting a video and playing it on your portable DVD player," NPD's Baker pointed out.

The industry needs to figure out an easier delivery mechanism if portable media devices are to move beyond gadget geek status. Gartner's Baker said. "If indeed someone could bring a service to market to go along with this device that was as drop-dead simple as the iPod iTunes interface, then perhaps there is a market."

Pricing is another matter. As Gartner's Baker mentioned, "I could buy the kid an iPod shuffle and a portable DVD player and still come out with money in my pocket."

One issue not discussed in the article is whether the movie industry will allow a service to exist that lets consumers easily convert their DVD collection for digital playback. And on the flipside, will consumers want to purchase digital video content for their devices, especially if they already own a copy on DVD...