With movie sales tanking, what to do with UMD?
That’s the question bouncing around the ivory towers of SCE. Perhaps some clues can be had from a survey of 55,000 PSP users by The NPD group, a market research firm providing news and information on consumer trends. According to the NPD for more than two-fifths of owners, watching movies or TV on their device was rated as a “very important factor” in their decision to purchase, with two-thirds of owners having splashed out on at least one UMD.
But the cost of UMD software remains a major turn-off for most. The PSP Functionality and Content Study rates games and music as the most popular content for the PlayStation portable.
Says David Riley, senior marketing manager for The NPD Group: “Consumers want a premium product if they’re going to pay a premium price. Portability isn’t a strong enough justification for prices significantly higher than those of DVDs, especially when the price of portable DVD players has dropped.”
Ultimately, the survival of the UMD format depends on price and movie/TV availability, and with new releases slowing down the omens are not good. The proprietary nature of the format is also slowing down acceptance.
According to the NPD: 56.4 per cent of PSP UMD owners own new movies; 31.1 per cent own old movies and 7.5 per cent own classic movies. Only 13.8 per cent of PSP users have bothered to download movies onto their PSP; technical complexity, limited media capacity and available content are to blame.
The latest firmware update (Version 2.70) for the PSP at east reduces the unit’s dependence on the UMD format.
The upgrade now provides PSP music file compatibility with most popular music file formats, including MP3, ATRAC, AAC and WMA. And with the new RSS feature enabled, the PSP can also link to audio content on Web pages that provide RSS-distributed podcasts.
When connected to the Internet via the PSP’s WLAN, the system will automatically update the list of audio content items that have been added to these pages, and users can then either stream and play the new content or save it to a Memory Stick Duo for playback later.