It surprises me very much whenever I learn that Company X is working on producing a portable media player. It’s not that I lack an affinity for those devices – I’ve owned more than a few – but rather that I feel their survivability is threatened by the smartphone boom.
In some respects you would think that the proliferation and acceptance of smartphones would be a boon for the PMP. And in a certain way, it is. People want smartphones, and what are PMPs but more affordable smartphones without cellular radios? Certainly they seem to possess all of the advantages of smartphones, minus that one feature. They play music and games, have wifi for internet access, and best of all, that lack of cellular support means you don’t have to worry about battery drain. If yours does run out of juice, the only thing you’ll be short on is entertainment. One very good PMP in particular has set the standard for what the category should be, but even this particular device is showing signs of passing away.
The iPod touch has been a hit for Apple. Fortunately for the company, it acted as a gateway to iOS for those who could not or did not get an iPhone due to cost, or to network availability. Almost every iteration, tit for tat, was on par with the iPhone. Sure, there were some glaring differences, the cameras in particular, but on the whole the iPod touch was essentially a radio-bare version of the phone.
Steve Jobs had jokingly referred to the 4th generation iPod Touch as an “iPhone without the contract”, but this year, the narrative changed. While the iPhone 4S was upgraded with the A5 and a boost in memory and optics, the iPod Touch’s only change was a price drop. Minor discrepancies from the last product cycle became giant omissions in the latest, and the iPod Touch was no longer an iPhone without a signal, it was last generation hardware.
The story is very much the same for the other major PMP challenger to the iPod Touch, the Galaxy Player. I owned the Player, and I liked it. A lot. But
I couldn’t get over the limitations that it and every other PMP suffer from. It had last-gen specs, and was just a pain to carry around in addition to my phone. For all the benefits that it afforded me, I couldn’t put up with the limitations.
The limitations are annoying, but they will not be the reason for the demise of the PMP. The reason lies in purpose. The iPod Touch, like all PMPs, was a substitute. It was for those who really wanted an iPhone, but for one reason or another didn’t get one. It was for the have-nots. This is all changing. What used to be a handful of earlyadopters has turned into a worldwide phenomenon. The smartphonemarket is booming, and it’s going to leave an already meager PMP market tediously close to extinction. Why would anyone carry around a Galaxy Player or iPod Touch when they could have a much more capable smartphone? When everyone has a smartphone, no one will need a PMP.
I realize that there are exceptions to the rule; a select few out there who genuinely embrace the advantages that having a PMP offers, and aren’t bothered by the included encumbrance or limitations. I admire your dedication. I also encourage you to take care of your current model – others aren’t likely to follow.
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