Trends Report

Portable Media Players Must Evolve With Cloud Or Become Extinct

Strategies To Counter Disruptive Smartphone Competition

December 10th, 2010
With contributors:
Thomas Husson , Mark Mulligan , Nick Thomas , Annie E. Corbett


Smartphones' benefits mean they continue to trample on adjacent product categories as the mobile market collides with the consumer electronics market. The role of the smartphone in consumers' lives continues to expand, as it remains consumers' only always-present digital device. To survive, the road maps and strategies for portable media players must look beyond the device to build in Internet-connected cloud features. Portable media players must avoid becoming the Galapagos Islands in the forward march of music and video's evolution. We are moving from business models focused on driving music ownership to ones built upon consumption — live in-person or recorded — where consumers enjoy access to music 24x7 with monetization through subscriptions, advertising, or attendance fees. Cloud connectivity enables media players to be a convenient part of this music and video access model, allowing consumers to use them in tandem with mobile phones, swapping devices at will. If firms fail to integrate cloud features, consumers will always reach for their phone to listen to music or watch video, and the entire portable media player category will die.

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