Thursday, June 15, 2006

JupiterResearch: Wireless Media Player Concept Sounds Off Key

Michael Gartenberg posts at the Jupiter Analyst Weblogs about the "phenomena of understanding the enthusiast vs. the mainstream user." He writes:

it's become harder and harder to understand where one set of activities begins and the other ends and often, what's enthusiast behavior today can potentially become mainstream tomorrow. There is a clear differentiation point that I have seen though. Enthusiasts will do certain types of things and when you ask them "Why?" the answer you will likely get is "Because, I can".
gartenberg thinks the new Music Gremlin portable media player with WiFi is "a perfect example of a product that will likely find appeal by enthusiasts but leave the rest of the market scratching their heads and reaching for their iPods." Gartenberg states:
At first glance, it seems like a great idea, add WiFi to a media player and skip the PC. Some folks even think Apple will eventually do this (they would be wrong, the PC is too important in the process and more importantly, remember that the full name of the company is Apple Computer, they're not likely to embrace the notion of bypassing the PC anytime soon) Except the PC plays a really important role, especially when it comes to subscription services. You see, navigating two million songs on a two inch screen with no keyboard is a nightmare. It's exactly the behavior I'd expect from an enthusiast but never from a mainstream consumer. Not to mention WiFi drains the battery life way down. I'm also not sure that WiFi is really the wireless technology of choice here to make this happen. How often are you near and active connection? Well, I have a connection at home, but of course if I'm home, why not just use the PC that's already hooked up to the Internet to browse and download? Sync over USB 2.0 isn't painful and frankly, not something I do that often.
Gartenberg concludes:
I think there's some use for wireless built into a device and perhaps offering a different type of service, something that co-exists with dedicated media players but offers a different experience. But I think the model is different from the notion of a portable media player adding WiFi. I suspect most consumers would prefer not to download songs but have their personal collections synced to a device from their PC and then simply stream other content that they subscribe to live. Users could also access things that get updated frequently like podcasts they want to listen to but that they don't necessarily want to save. To make this happen, you'd need to see EV-DO or the like integrated into a device already carried by consumers and the ability to use that device anywhere, easily with a lot of effort to create editorial play lists so you could access content easily on the go or sync playlists you made when you were at your computer and navigation was far simpler. Yep, imagine you could get something like URGE integrated into a cell phone?