SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - If you build the portable media player, will they come?
Manufacturers keen to create the next iPod are starting to flood the market with a bevy of electronic devices that play movies, music and display photos.
Even Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) CEO Steve Jobs, who has repeatedly pooh-poohed the notion of a video iPod, may be getting into the act, if speculation on Apple rumor Web sites is to be believed.
The iPod was a stunning, runaway success. But it's not clear the next wave of media players will have the same appeal.
Ranging from devices from Archos (ARCH.PA: Quote, Profile, Research), Creative Technology (CREA.SI: Quote, Profile, Research) (CREAF.O: Quote, Profile, Research), Epson and the Sony (6758.T: Quote, Profile, Research) (SNE.N: Quote, Profile, Research) PSP and others, the players range in cost from about $200 to about $800. And, for the most part, they aren't small enough to drop in a pants pocket, analysts said, who question whether, in their current incarnation, they'll take off.
"In many ways, I do view portable media players as a technology in search of a market," said Van Baker, an analyst at industry research firm Gartner. "If I'm carrying music with me, chances are I want to carry something that's a little smaller than a personal music player."
Of course, digital music players are now as small as a pack of gum and range in size to as large as the dimensions of a deck of playing cards and easily slipped in pockets or clipped to belts and purses.
In a recent review of some of the devices, PC Magazine likened the current generation of personal music players to an eight-month-old baby: "It's generally enjoyable to have around, but it still doesn't really know what it is yet. And it's occasionally fussy and a bit heavy to carry everywhere."
Says NPD Group analyst Stephen Baker: "We haven't really given people a reason why they would want to own one yet."
He noted that there is a lack of infrastructure in place to easily 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 said. Article Continued Here