Convergence and the Personal Media Player

Tuesday October 28, 2008 – Shelby Cunningham

Everywhere you look someone is trying to cram more functions into a single device. From cell phones that moonlight as music players, to video game systems that playback high definition video, all the way to refrigerators with built in televisions and internet access, convergence is all around us. The reasons and benefits coming from convergence are obvious, but will all consumers buy into this obvious and efficient trend?

Apple introduced an MP3 player that also played video to the masses in late 2005, and since then sales of Personal Media Players (PMPs) have exploded. And now the PMPs have morphed with the mobile phone. Despite the popularity of the iPhone and other Swiss Army knife-like devices, the stand-alone PMP market is still quite strong. In fact it is rapidly taking over the audio-only player.

The PMP market will continue to grow over the next four years, going from 60 million in 2007, to 107 million in 2011. Video capable PMPs will become increasingly more common as the cost to add the capability to PMPs goes down and consumer demand goes up.

Source: DTC

It’s going to take a lot more than just the availability of these devices for convergence to fully take over. Yes, I am aware that my iPhone doubles as an organizer and an iPod, but I haven’t loaded a single song or video onto it. Why is that? It could be because my dedicated iPod is still in good working condition, or maybe I’m afraid of losing everything at once if the device fails, or just don’t yet think of my phone as a place to listen to music and watch movies.

For the next few years people are going to continue to carry multiple devices around when they could carry one fully converged device despite the convenience and efficiency. It could be that consumers will replace dead iPods with a multifunction device rather than another basic MP3 player. People have already begun to use their PlayStations as home entertainment centers, so it’s not as if they don’t get the two-in-one concept. Consumers will eventually get used to having one handheld device rather than two or three, but for now the PMP market has nothing to worry about.