Our World. Our Minutae.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Why the PSP & the Cell Phone Companies Will NOT Topple iPod

Forbes Story: First of all, of course, BEFORE the product comes out - the product manager/VP is going to rave about how it'll become the next iPod - you have plenty of time to blame others later. Nokia predicted they would sell 6 MILLION N-Gage's. I'm not saying the ipod is invincible forever but clearly these guys are not going to supply the missing pieces. While Sony’s PSP will undoubtedly be a big hit and while it can play music, people who want a music player are NOT going to buy it as music player. First, it'll be the size of a PDA while the ipod will only get smaller or offer a much larger storage device. While the 2 GB of storage of the PSP sounds enticing – that’s on a tiny disc – show of hands. Who outside of the product team wants to carry around tiny discs with music on it? Isn’t that the point of the ipod – so you don’t have to carry discs around anymore (of any size)? And how fast is disc access? Does it pre-load into internal RAM or a cache? Video games still load too slowly now – and will you wait that long for music to load? Can you fast forward and move from playlist to playlist in milliseconds with the ipod? Or is it disc access? Spin-Spin-Spin Wait- Spin-Spin-Spin Wait? How exactly do you load the music onto the 2 GB disc? The PSP doesn’t have a burner - $300 to buy a burner for what is essentially a tiny CD-R? Again, you’re back to the last century. You have to make a mix CD-R before you can listen to music. For gamers, what’s their first priority – are they going to want to save game files or music files? I have no idea how big the saved files might be but I know if it’s a choice between KORN or the level 7 game files, I know which is going to be saved first. And with each game now packed with music – do you really need a separate file to listen to that song or are you just going to play the game to hear the song you like – all the while getting better at the game? Or are you really going to wind down the battery to listen to music? For music fans, why would you give up something that works for a device that’s 95% devoted to games? The PSP will broaden the portable market a bit but not by a huge margin – there will not suddenly be untold million of people walking around playing GT5 while crossing the street. Yes, it looks like a great product but it’s not revolutionary – it’s just really nice. It will NOT change people’s habits. Again, I'm not saying the PSP is not going to sell a lot and yes, people will load music on it but it will not be a huge priority and it's not enough to topple the ipod - no one is going to switch from a device that can play back 4-60 GB of music for something that holds less than 2 GB minus gaming files on a disc with a playback speed/cache that we have no clue on. As for the Bronfman’s comment on cell phone companies - they cannot even print out a monthly bill that's not full of gibberish, but more importantly - they have a one-track mind and a one-track billing system. They only like an option where you pay them every month – otherwise, they’re not that interested unless accounting can track exactly how much you own them every month. They can’t even sell you ringtones without you having to sign up the monthly “premium” plan and THEN they will sell you ringtones – and they can barely keep track of the 40 ringtones they offer now – for a total of what 40 minutes TOTAL inventory – can you imagine them trying to keep track and provide tech support for 1 MILLION music tracks? They are UTILITIES with a UTILTIES mindset. Sure, they eye the music industry as a raw gross number but they are not going to be able to do it. And another thing Bronfman is forgetting … Can anyone name a cell phone they’ve had where the OS/interface actually makes sense? I recently had to change the time on my phone (I’m not sure I have to be connected to their network but they cannot figure daytime savings time occurred). It was NOT in SETTINGS, MY SETTINGS or CALENDAR … it was under T-ZONE … these are the people you want to let program your device that stores thousands of songs? I’d rather the DMV do it. The ipod is successful because people who actually liked/loved music sat down and thought – I have 100 CD’s (first ipod 5 GB) – how can I get these onto a device so I can carry them around and listen to them AND if there are songs I’m missing, how can I buy them and get them the easiest way onto this device? That is entirely DIFFERENT than – we have these songs just sitting around – how can we get the public to pay us each month … what thing do regular people have that we can tap into … wait, the cell phone! Why not have the sanitation guys leave SIM chips on our garbage cans? Or the meter reader? It makes just as much sense. Yes, at some point there will be a hardware-software-OS interface that will give the ipod a run for the money but it will not be the PSP or the cell phone companies today.