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Friday, November 10, 2006 

Mobile Media Players with WiFi are finally hitting the market

earlier this year I predicted that mobile media players and particularly the iPod were about to get WiFi support. While the iPod is not quite there, the Zune player from Microsoft (just launched) and the new Archos 604 WiFi, both offer WiFi support and the Archos also supports streaming video from PCs. This is the start of a new era where mobile multimedia devices, PDAs, and mobile communicators (like the Nokia 770, and the Sony mylo) all converge to form a new category, the mobile multimedia communicator. This category can be considers the re-birth of the PDA and while it is too early to tell how successful it will be, it is clear that once Internet connection on the go is made ubiquitous, this category will offer a real alternative to SmartPhones.

Interestingly, all these devices already have a web browser and a multimedia player for audio, video and images. The Nokia 770 also supports UPnP A/V and it remains to be seen if UPnP will become the standard for PC connectivity across this category or perhaps something else will emerge. What will probably set the tone is the iPod, which is expected to offer WiFi as well, and will probably stream from iTunes via Bonjour and not UPnP. In fact I anticipate Bonjour to become in 2007 a true rival to UPnP due to iPod support and due to Apple's planned release of its iTV product.