Watching my son and his friend tussle over a game on the Apple iTouch the other day provided first-hand evidence of the popularity of these devices as not only Portable Media Players (PMP), but as next generation portable gaming devices. A new report from research firm IMS confirms the popularity of the Apple devices, as Apple is expected to have 30% of the market share by year-end 2009.
Although there is still growth in the PMP devices that incorporate video, the market for PMPs is beginning to plateau and other devices, such as multimedia and smart phones will grab market share.
In a market that appears to be peaking soon, is there room for an Android-based offering; a sort of Gee-Touch? Dan Frommer, writing in the Silicon Valley Insider, thinks this is a good idea, as he opines in this article.
Anna Hunt of IMS suggests that, to some extent, the creation of such a product will depend upon, "the development community's support of Android." She suggests that the first devices are likely to be niche and on the higher-end side and more likely to be in the Mobile Internet Device category. She points to an Archos Device that has features such as a 5 inch touch screen, high definition video playback, and up to a 500 Gbyte hard-drive.
Another device that looks almost like the iTouch, but with an Android operating system is what iRiver was supposedly working on this past summer.
A device that looks very interesting is from Creative's subsidiary, ZillLABS. ZiiLABS has created the ARM processor that powers the Zii Egg and wants other manufacturers/developers to adopt their technology. The Zii Egg is really a developer's kit with some cool features such as front and back HD cameras (think portable video conferencing), hardware GPS receiver, 10 point, multi-gesture capacitive touch display and OpenGL ES that gives it remarkable 3D graphic capability. In short, it seems to have the hardware power to create an iTouch-like experience, while running on the Android or the Linux-based Plaszma Operating System.
The following video of the Zii Egg reinforces my decision to hold off getting my son an iTouch, as it looks like there may be some viable Android-based, alternatives in the not-so-distant future.