Every single day sees the launch of numerous, unremarkable, and short lived portable music and media players. Shiny black, white, red, glossy screened players with a shelf life of about 14 days. If you watch very carefully you may even see one in use by someone in the general public. Maybe.
Since Apple invented the iPod it has cornered innovation in the personal media player market. Surely Apple is not the only company with innovative ideas. What are the keys to innovation? Finding a need and filling it. Finding a problem and solving it. Finding a market that is untouched or with room to grow. Innovation is more than copying the features of a competitor and adding a slight twist. Have we reached the end of innovation in this market? What more can be added to the music, video, wifi, phone, recording, and camera gadgets?
Perhaps the next wave of innovation will come in content and delivery. iTunes could use a revamp in the search and listing functions of it’s free media. Hulu.com is gaining more and more traction, but is fighting Boxee at every step. RSS may be really simple, but few people use a RSS reader or podcatcher. The Amazon Kindle has brought a library into the home, but focuses on paid content. The problem with most of these? They are either proprietary or to complicated for the average consumer to implement. I want to watch video on my PMP but how do I get it, do I have to resize it, compress it, etc. This is a nice shiny gadget but what now? That is why you seldom see one of the dozens of new PMP’s on the street.
Innovation is there for the taking. Competition is fracturing and flooding the market instead of uniting it. The physical PMP gadget market is reaching a point of critical mass. Wikipedia defines critical mass as a “socio-dynamic term to describe the existence of sufficient momentum in a social system such that the momentum becomes self-sustaining and fuels further growth” Who will be the people to cause this tipping point? What will be the next idea to pull the market through to another few years of exponential growth? You may have the answer. Let’s hear it.