The iPod and iPod mini portable digital-music players are "a measure for success" for the rest of the MP3 player industry, and consumers believe the iPod miniis 1,000 song capacity is the right size for most people, according to a survey by technology analysis company Jupiter Research.
The entire research report, obtained by The Mac Observer, shows that consumers want a portable music player that ends up having the same features and attributes of todayis existing Apple iPod and iPod mini. In an online survey of 2,300 invited consumers, 55% said a portable music device with a rechargeable battery of four to eight hours playing time life was the most important concern when considering what to buy. Second most important was pocketable size at 52%, and synchronization with their personal computer was third at 49%.
"These core attributes, embodied by the iPod, are attributes that should be considered and emulated by every vendor of portable music devices," the report stated.
Miniis 1,000 song capacity hits a chord
Of significant importance to Apple will be the results of song capacity preference among consumers surveyed. Of the 1,301 people in the US who said they were currently interested in buying a portable music player, 77% said they would not need more than 1,000 songs on a play at any given time, which is the exact size of the iPod mini, now selling for US$249.
Further backing up the claim that 1,000 song capacity is the highest consumer preference was evidence that the majority of people have small music collections. "75 percent of consumers who have music on their PCs have 200 or fewer songs," the report said. "Of the same group on consumers, less than five percent have more than 3,500 songs on their PC.
"Vendors such as Creative, Archos, Dell and Apple have all created hard drive music players that can hold up to and beyond 5,000 songs," the report stated. "Hard drive players with such large capacity for content go above and beyond not only the music that most consumers want on their portable music player, but also beyond the digital music that they own."
Missing from the survey was any consumer questioning of how much they would be willing to pay for a portable music player based on the number of songs the device holds. Although the report said the price range of an Apple iPod - between $249 and $499 - is "justifiable to many consumers," it based that assumption totally on Appleis dominate portable music player market share of 30%.
Music format a consumer concern
The Jupiter survey found that 20% of consumers said playing MP3 files is important, versus 7% who would prefer files in Microsoftis WMA format and fewer than 1% who prefer the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format, an open standard that was developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group, and is supported on Appleis iTunes music store.
Jupiter Research surmised the survey results clearly show interoperability could become a confusing issue for consumers. "There is enormous potential for confusion on support for DRM (digital rights management)-protected online stores. Consumers may not realize that content purchased at Napster will not play on (an) iPod or in iTunes--or that content from Appleis store will not play on a Creative player.
"The digital music market is becoming polarized between the AAC camp on one hand and the WMA camp on the other. Microsoft may hold the larger hand of cards (particularly widespread use of WMA and WDRM) but Apple holds the aces with the iPod and iTunes."
Jupiter Gives iPod High Marks
Based on its market share, and results from the survey that showed the Apple iPod had many of the traits in a portable music player that consumers desire, Jupiter Research heralded Appleis two devices as a "measure for success" for its competitors to emulate.
"Apple Computer has done an exemplary job of building the iPod and iPod mini with both style and optimal functionality, " the report stated. "Jupiter Research believes (the 4 GB iPod mini) has the right content capacity, size, battery life, and synchronization features to tap into exactly what consumers desire."
Among the reports other interesting conclusions were:
- Portable music players will overtake MP3 flash players in sales by the end of this year, but wonit overtake portable CD player sales until 2006.
- Final numbers on shipments of MP3 players for 2003 will show an almost doubling to more than 3.5 million, and will continue to grow more than 50% this year.
- At present, only two percent of consumer households surveyed own hard drive-based portable music players, compared to three percent owning flash-based players. The report concluded that based on these numbers, the market for portable music players remains very much "untapped."
- Adoption of portable video devices will be a long time coming. Current poor device sizes, poor battery life, long transfer times and the lack of available legal video content are all factors that will slow video adoption on portable devices for some time.