Entelligence: Is there a market for portable video players?

archos av500Every Thursday Michael Gartenberg of Jupiter Research contributes an interesting item of gadget-related research data. Last week he focused on the segmenting of the cellphone market, this week he looks at whether or not there is a market for portable video players:

If you read the news, it seems there are some folks that don't believe in the concept of video on a portable media player. With the emergence of devices based on the Portable Media Center platform and other devices that support standards such as MPEG4, it's time to take a closer look at what consumers think of mobile video.

While portable video might not be for everyone, it certainly has mass market potential. According to a recent JupiterResearch survey, 51% of consumers would watch movies on a portable media player. 55% of them are interested in watching TV shows. That compares with 79% of consumers who like the idea of listening to music. Yes, more people will listen to music on the go, but there?s a real market for video if there are legal sources of video content. As for the argument that music is a background task ? and therefore as a mobile function requires less attention ? I disagree. While I acknowledge jogging or driving when watching a movie is a bad idea, there are plenty of scenarios that are suitable for watching video content. In fact, I can even think of other activities that require even more engagement than watching video that are popular in mobile settings. One of them is reading. People seem to do it all the time, even though it?s hardly a background task.

I realize that a lot of folks have no interest in mobile video. In fact, 22% have no interest in audio either. But please don?t confuse the efforts to date with there being no market. When portable video is done correctly and there are legal sources of video content that are widely available, these devices will gain market share. Of course it will be the enthusiasts who adopt first  and then over time more mainstream markets. Just like MP3 players.

Michael Gartenberg is vice president and research director for the Personal Technology & Access and Custom Research groups at Jupiter Research in New York. Contact him at mgartenberg@jupitermedia.com. His weblog and RSS feed are at http://weblogs.jupiterresearch.com/analysts/gartenberg.