27
Sep
WiFi_Galaxy5_front3_thumb

When I saw the announcement by Samsung that they were bringing the Samsung Galaxy Player 4.0 and 5.0 portable media players to the US, I paused, and thought "Uh, why?" We have yet to come up with an answer.

That's to say, we're not sure what Samsung is thinking bringing a PMP (portable media player) product line into the United States, where the iPod Touch dominates that already-dwindling market to a laughable extent. PMPs are a product of the early smartphone era, where having a device that could make phone calls, store your music, videos, and play games was simply impractical because of technological battery and storage limitations.

Apple took advantage of that with the iPod, and absolutely ran away with the market. Whether you like to admit it or not, it was a brilliant product. Since then, there really has been no other PMP in the US which has come close to denting Apple's lead. Well, that's not entirely true, the iPod has seen shrinkage to all sorts of products which aren't exactly PMPs, namely: smartphones. Apple's own iPhone has led the charge in cannibalizing iPod sales because, let's face it, they're sort of the same thing.

iPod sales have actually begun falling (worldwide), and have since 2009:

wiki

The market for PMPs is slowly self-destructing. Why? Smartphones have come to have better battery life, much more storage space, and vastly improved processing power. You can watch or listen to just about anything on a smartphone, so that has made PMPs a bit redundant.

Now, if you have a real juice-sucker like the HTC Thunderbolt or DROID BIONIC, using your smartphone as a PMP all the time will probably incur costs in the form of extra or extended batteries, which are a nuisance. Having a separate PMP might, then, be an alternative. But are individuals in those situations enough to ensure the Galaxy Player is a product which will actually make it off store shelves? We're definitely not convinced.

But we want to know what you think - is the Galaxy Player going to be a flop, or is there still room for a product like this in the States? Lend us your vote.

Is the Galaxy Player going to be a non-start for US consumers?

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David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Peter

    The market for something like this is pretty straightforward, kids under the age of 14-16 who have parents who don't want to pay for individual 3g data plans.

    Aside from that one demographic, i'd be surprised if these got popular.

    • David Ruddock

      I don't know about you, but I wouldn't hand my kid a $250 (after tax) PMP with a screen just waiting to get cracked when they drop it.

      That, and I don't think something this... nerdy has much appeal to most kids. Not to mention most parents will have no idea this thing even exists. Seems pretty pointed at the "enthusiast" to me.

      • J Rush

        Nerdy? Hardly! Where I'm from, if it has a big screen and runs Android, it's a must have! Plus, I'm pretty sure that if a kid's parents go down to buy them an iPod, you wouldn't miss this choice. As for it being for an enthusiast, I wouldn't say so. I'd say it was pointed at consumers who want a CHOICE. iPod's and such dominate the media player market, and when something like this comes in to play, there is bound to be some attention centered at it.

  • Drew DeNardo

    Peter is 100% right. I have a 7 year-old and a 10 year-old who want to play Angry Birds, Cut-the-rope, etc. I certainly don't want to get them their own monthly plan with any of the carriers.

    Think of them as the new Nintendo DS.

    • http://www.geardiary.com Michael Anderson

      Except that with a DS you can go to a store and get a DS game and it WILL work.

      Buy a PSP-3000, go get ANY UMD game and it WILL work.

      Get a new iPod Touch and go to the app store in the iPhone section and every game WILL work.

      Get this and ... who knows, maybe 50% of games will work?

      • Tom

        Sorry, why would only 50% of games work? You're obviously some idiot iPhone user who's never picked up an android device, I've been through everything from a G1 to a Nexus S and seriously not had compatibility issues with gaming. Some games are WVGA or better only, but that's about the craziest minimum requirement I've seen, and what's this PMP, WVGA? Good enough.

        • J Rush

          I have to agree with Tom, why would you think only 50% of the games would work? That seems illogical. That's like me saying I'm going to buy a PS3 and then asking the employee if the brand new PS3 games I buy with it will work because I've never used a PS3 before.

          However, Micheal is right to some extent. There are some games on the Android Market that are incompatible with my device. Also, you have to factor in the fact the the App Store is tailored to the iPhone and iPod, which there is only one iPhone and iPod. There are about 90+ different Android Devices in the market, and to tailor a game for all of them would be extremely difficult and time-consuming...so I'm not agreeing with or disagreeing with Micheal.

  • netposer

    There is a huge market for PMPs but someone should figure out how to convert older Android phones to PMPs. Something like a WiFi only Droid X as a PMP would be great for $150 or so.

    • Matt Kleinman

      Why is there any converting necessary? My G2 worked fine on wifi when I left t-mobile.

  • John Jones

    Perhaps it's a long-term strategy? Establish their PMP in the market until the point where Apple pulls the plug on the iPod, and then Samsung can attack whatever market is left.

    Or Samsung's crazy. Definitely one of the two.

    • J Rush

      +1

      Samsung is definitely crazy. But not dumb. They must have a reason for marketing this PMP. Competition comes to mind, as Apple controls most of the Media Player market. And if Apple will ever pull the plug on the iPod, you can bet Samsung will be there to reap the market share.

  • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com PixelSlave

    May be Skype/Google Voice + the Samsung PMP = an occasional smartphone.

    Or, Clearwire has an unlimited 4G WiMAX data only plan for $45 a month. Couple them with a Skype/Google Voice setup, that's the cheapest way to a full time smartphone. Provided that you are willing to toss a 4G modem into a bag or something and bring it along with you all the time.

  • Mike

    Sometimes I wish my 4.3" phone was a few increments bigger, 5" might be the right spot. provided seidio releases a 5000mah battery for it, the 5" player sounds interesting.

  • Josh

    I would get one of these for my nieces or nephews that aren't old enough to justify a smartphone for. I know if i was a parent, I wouldn't want to fork over $50+ a month for a phone and data plan for a 12 year old.

  • http://dljordaneku.wordpress.com/ Darrell Jordan

    I'm in the hey I want this for my kids so I don't have to buy them a smartphone yet. PMPs will be the DS of the future.

  • http://epicinfo.net Waldi

    Yeah I sell those the 4g modem isn't a real issue especially for the Ladies. If you need some unlimited 4g just drop me a line

  • floppy

    I you add the little app Groove IP linked at your google voice account you can make and receive phone call for free when you are on a wi-fi zone.
    Pretty need in fact

  • Matt Kleinman

    If I had this media player, I wouldn't need a smart phone. I'm bathed in wifi all day every day, so I could kiss my stupidly expensive data plan goodbye, get a dumbphone for phone calls, and say hello to a sweet 5" tab that fits in my pocket and does everything my smartphone could (while in wifi!).

  • Vision77

    These devices would have cost a lot less than the PMP market's favorite for them to even stand a chance.....And the user experience should be better than just your regular android OS.....Now if I could get one of these for cheap and put a media optimized version of MIUI on it.....that would be awesome...

  • RomeSC

    I just bought a used Samsung Vibrant to use as an PMP just 2 weeks ago.

    I am using a Nexus One as my smartphone. When my iPod went through the washer I decided I wanted a new dedicated mp3 player, but I love android.

    Great screen, good storage, decent battery life, great 3d graphics for games and great video playback. Its perfect. The Samsung plastic is terrible as a phone, but great to keep a PMP lightweight. Also, many people still do not have an HD videocamera, and the Vibrant does that too. Take it jogging, leave it in the car, cant do that with my phone. plus as others have said, many people want to have the android experience (or give to their kids) without the data plan. This is great for that.

    For all these reasons, I think there is definitely a place for high end android PMP's, even if it would have been much smarter to release them stateside last year.

  • SiliconAddict

    Do you know what % of phones are smart phones? That is why they are bringing it to the US.

  • SiliconAddict

    PS By your thinking tablets should all die as well since we have smartphones.

  • tdavis42

    Really sad to see them so late to the game. This is just goinig to create another flop area for Android.

    • J Rush

      Or create a Android breeding ground. You never know.

  • Eion

    I'd prefer the Note. I use a Nexus S, but a separate PMP is nice (currently using my G2x for that, but trying to sell it). That said, a tablet is higher on my priority list than a PMP.

  • http://www.laymusic.org Laura Conrad

    I worry about what I'm going to read books on when my Nokia N810 dies. When I bought it, I assumed that by that time, I'd have a phone with a good enough screen.

    This is possibly true, but whether the phone will also have a good enough battery to last a day if I'm using it for phone calls, listening to music, and reading books is another question.

    So when Woot had a grey-market one of these, I seriously considered buying it, and if the price for the actually imported ones is low enough, I may well get one to replace the N900.

    • Mesmorino

      Most hilarious comment of the year: "I worry about what I'm going to read books on when my Nokia N810 dies"

      Um, how about read the actual books themselves? :p

      • J Rush

        +1

        That was quite funny, and I loved how you pointed out that actual books are still in existence.

  • mpciii

    My kids use my wife's and my old Eris' as media players. I shut down the radios, only turn on the wifi when necessary, loaded them up with music, games and interactive books. It works out great! I'll probably do the same thing when we are done with our Thunderbolts.

  • Andrew – Des Moines

    That's one damn-fine looking buggy whip.

  • Michael

    I am 20 and would actually use this, i have just been waiting for an android device to replace my ipod classic one major thing I need is the memory though! Once google starts selling music i bet have a feeling this will work better

  • Alex H.

    My kids have had ipod touchs since they were 2 and 1 respectively. Great for video and cheap games. The market is killing off the DS, PSP and leapfrog, where games are $40 each and kids get bored quickly. A good case will keep them from getting broken.

  • Justin C

    Wow, that wasn't a biased poll at all... seriously, get over yourself, David.

    I'm a college student and I've had my eye on these for months. The 5.0 is perfect for my needs as far as I can tell, because:

    1) I'm near a WAP ~99% of the time. I have a wireless router at home and of course campus-wide access at school. It would be really, really stupid of me to pay a premium for a data plan since I would almost never need it.

    2) The bigger screen means I can read stuff more easily on it. Class materials, web references, etc. right there without having to wait a minute or so for my laptop to boot up.

    3) With a SIP app installed, I should be able to use it as a VoIP phone no problem. If I don't have Internet access and I really need to call someone... well, that's what my dumb phone is for.

    4) It's cheaper than most phones with even close to comparable specs. I realize the cellular radio module costs money, but $330 more? I'm sorry, but no thanks. Most of what you pay for a phone is pure profit for the manufacturer and/or carrier, which I suppose is great for them, but my wallet doesn't appreciate it.

    5) It'll be a great app development testbed, especially without the ongoing costs of a phone with a contract. Or the crippling initial cost of an unlocked phone, for that matter.

    I think you get the idea, although I could probably come up with some more points if I had to. To answer your question: yes, it does have a place in the U.S. In my pocket, for example, and it sounds like plenty of other people are thinking the same way. Sure, in the long run, the PMP market is probably doomed. Smartphones will eventually take over completely once prices come down enough. Honestly, though, I'd give PMPs another 10-20 reasonably strong years, especially with new stuff like this coming out to revitalize people's interests.

    • Chris

      Problem is, most other people here have said that rather than buying these new PMPs, they're just going to repurpose their old phones as PMPs and save cash. Not that they're going to buy this new Galaxy Player.

  • wackadroid

    these sold out on woot for $170 so i def think there is a market for them. I think $269 may be a bit steep but getting something like this into the hands of the youth could push the platform by leaps and bounds.

  • Chris

    I think it should be noted that the question in the poll is not whether or not personal media players as a whole are dead, nor whether you personally are going to purchase a Galaxy Player.

    The question is whether or not there is a real market for this particular line of hardware from Samsung. And in my opinion, that's a negative.

    In the personal media player market, Apple has had far less real competition than in the smartphone market. Apple didn't 'invent' the smartphone market, but it did make the personal media player market truly viable, to the point where that entire category of devices is associated with the iPod brand, in the same way tissues are with Kleenex and disposable bandages with Band-aid.

    This isn't to say that others haven't tried to push into the market, nor that there were no other products of equal quality. Microsoft's Zune lineup were worthy competitors that Microsoft failed to put enough advertising weight behind. Creative came out with innovative and well-designed players, but the iPod-iTunes iron duopoly was a better example of monopolistic tying than Microsoft's inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows.

    So now Samsung, in essence, has to push these Galaxy Players against the 800-pound gorilla in the room, the iPod Touch, but without an organized Android presence in the PMP market. Microsoft tried with the Zune HD, and despite very good reviews, failed to make any noticeable dent in Apple's market share. And you can bet Samsung probably won't be making a big advertising push for them either.

    So when they do come to market, a year late and more than a dollar short against the new iPod Touch Apple is likely to unveil next week at Cupertino, yes, a few diehards with cash to blow will pick them up.

    But many more will do what the people in this thread already mentioned: repurpose old smartphones as PMPs. Hardcore developers will flock to the new Nexus phone, or keep their old ones. And those that aren't Android fanatics will simply buy up that new iPod Touch.

    Me? I passed 32 GB in my portable media collection years ago. There's a reason I'm on an iPod Classic with 120 GB of storage. 64 GB is as small as I'll go, but even then, it'll probably be another iPod, the lone outpost of Cupertino in my tech collection. Seven years of playcounts, playlists, and videos from iTunes mean something to me, and I still get tons of iTunes gift cards from family and friends; I've never spent a dime of my own cash there.

  • http://linkedlistcorruption.com zylogz80

    I'm interested in one of these but for a niche reason. I've got a phone I hate, I'm stuck in a contract, I will be for a long while, and unlocked Android phones cost obscene amounts of money. I'd rather just buy one of these and have access to Android goodness on the go without breaking the bank.

  • cosmic

    Glad you could keep the poll options unbiased. /s

    Not everyone has a smartphone, and between the bad economy and increased data rates is it really such a stretch to think people might get a pmp instead? Especially for those who don't have a smartphone to repurpose? I know people can get carried away about smartphones but not everyone has one.

    The ipod sales weren't helped by meager upgrades. If there were real updates I'm sure sales would be better, slapping a sub 1 mp camera on crap != upgrade worth purchasing.

  • OperationHorror

    Boy those are some nice options author, way to look like a 14 year old's myspace poll.

  • Tee

    Is the battery of iPod aready a changable one? If not, this is the killer.

    But in general, I bet the next law suite is about iPod/Galaxy Player... :D

  • equalunderthelaw

    This article is an ill-considered snark, especially the poll.

    Is the author's business advice for Samsung that they should NOT attempt to tap into the >30 million unit/year iPod sales market? ("Thanks for coming in... We'll be in touch.")

    Even if the market for wifi-only PMPs were to shrink to, say, 10 million units/year (after 20% drop/year from 30 million units over 5 years), then even at a conservative $100/unit profit, that's still 1 billion dollars on the table. Not chump change. Given that Apple shares design effort between their iPhone and iPod Touch and Samsung between the Samsung Galaxy S and Samsung Galaxy Player, there is good money to be made in marketing to the long tail of consumers who want a cheap (sans annual cell data charges) wifi-only PMP, especially as the smartphone market saturates and the wifi-only PMP market stabilizes.

    Sure, if you have a smartphone whose features satisfy your media needs AND your are willing to pay for 3g/4g data, then you probably won't want a wifi-only PMP. So don't buy one. Not every tech company's announcement has to rock the world. It just has to be profitable.

  • http://www.nx8.com/tags/army army games

    If you’re a fan of the Samsung Galaxy Tab but find that 10 inches is just too much for you, then you’ll be pleased to hear the Galaxy Tab 8.9 is finally available to pre-order, and will begin hitting U.S. stores from Sunday, October 2.

    The Galaxy Tab 8.9 was first announced at CTIA a full six months ago — along with a redesigned version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 — and could be the perfect slate for those who want a teeny tiny tablet. Despite its compact form factor, however, like many of Samsung’s devices the Galaxy Tab 8.9 is dressed to impress.

  • http://www.nx8.com/tags/balancing balancing games

    Samsung is planning to introduce its latest “Galaxy Players” handheld gaming devices to compete with Apple iPod, a report from LATimes.

    Samsung Galaxy Players are beginning to the United States, where they will battle the iPod for entertainment activities such as internet surfing, app downloading, gaming, Facebook, Twittering and more.

  • trainman261

    "No - I do not yet have enough heavy objects in my pockets."
    That's an interesting way to pose a poll question. There is a reason why the iPod touch sells. Maybe the iPod sales are going down, but to my knowledge, not the ipod touch sales. In fact, I will probably be buying a galaxy player (OK, I'm in Canada, close enough). Some people do want this stuff. Another thing - a lot of people want this kind of functionality - but are not yet ready to replace their phone, so they will buy something like this. While it may not sell massive amounts, it will also serve as an advertising tool - people generally stay on the platform they are using. So, if the iPod touch is the only option in this category, then they will most likely get that, and then eventually, when they are ready to give up their old phone, buy an iphone. However, if there is a samsung android alternative, they can also claim a part of that "PMP-and-eventually-moving-on-to-the-phone" market, which will help them sell more galaxy sII/SIII/SIIII/SWhatever devices.

  • jerry

    can i buy galaxy player 4.0 in hawaii naxt year?

  • Ned

    I bought the 4" one. I've always wanted the capabilities of the iPod Touch but:
    1. didn't want to settle for the iPod's limitations and
    2. didn't want to incur the monthly costs of a data plan when public wifi is ubiquitous enough to not need the mobile capabilities of a smartphone.

    I didn't take part in your one-sided poll.

    Wake up and smell the data plan's real odor. It's not attractive.