Have you seen the television ad from Verison, where everyone is walking down the street, shimmying like Shakira’s video?
The convergence of handhelds appears to be going full-stream. Last year, Sony announced that it was exiting the PDA market in the U.S. Palm split into an operating system company and a hardware company. Now, the hardware company is rumored to be switching to Windows for its Personal Digital Assistants. Windows PDAs continue to grab market share, grab more power, and grab much more money from buyers!
Almost all PDAs today, except the entry-level ones, can play MP3 files for their users. Their biggest limitation is the amount of their memory. With 1 GB compact flash and SD cards, that limitation isn’t too bad, either. PDAs are starting to show up with cell-phone capabilities, too, like the Treo.
Meanwhile, cell phones are moving towards convergence, too. The cell phone economics are entirely different, though. While PDAs have a hefty purchase price and little-to-no ongoing costs, cell phones have a highly-subsidized purchase price. The cell phone service providers make all their money from selling the service. There are a number of cellphones on the market with MP3 capabilities, such as the Motorola ROKR E1 iTunes phone.
That brings us back to the cell phones with video clips. Why? I sure hope these are clips that you, the owner, can upload through a cable from your computer. If not, no one is going to be able to afford them. At one time, Cingular’s cheapest data plan charged $19.99 for 5MB of data, with additional data at $0.008 per KB. Now, consider that the average “ringtone” is 150-200KB. You can chew up that $20 very fast. After your initial 5MB, that next ringtone would cost you $1.20-$1.60 to download, in addition to whatever you paid to “purchase it” and 10 cents for the text message that send the link to you. This gets expensive quickly.
Now, just how cheap do you think downloading a movie will be? Or, it might turn out to be streamed video that you watch live (we’ll get there one day, if not today).
We will have to see a real step change in the pricing of cell phone data, before video or music that is sent via the phone is reasonably priced. For now, consider that you would load your MP3 files onto your MP3 Player, or onto your PDA or onto your cell phone (those that will allow it).
By the way, the ringtones on Motorola phones are actually small MP3 files. Goldwave (my Shareware Pick of the Week October 17th or Audacity (August 22nd) can edit music files and create those smaller files for you. Motorola sells their Phone Tools software & cable kit (USB or mini-USB) to hook your phone to your computer so you can upload the files to your phone. Hopefully the other manufacturers have a similar systems for loading videos and music on their phones — I know the PDA manufacturers do…