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Roll Out the Welcome Mat for UMD

8 Jul, 2005 By: Thomas K. Arnold

It's gratifying to watch the studios and some savvy indies jump all over the Universal Media Disc (UMD), the proprietary software format for Sony's hot new PlayStation Portable (PSP).

All told, there are upwards of 130 movie and TV titles either in stores or scheduled to arrive shortly — more, by some estimates, than there are games. Studios aren't so much looking for boffo out-of-the-gate sales (although five titles have now shipped in excess of 100,000 units) as they are to get a foot in the door of an emerging market with practically unlimited potential.

Think about it. People are spending more and more time with cell phones and PDAs, with Blackberries and Motorola RAZRs. And every week, it seems, we hear about some new handheld gadget or gizmo — or an improvement to an existing gadget or gizmo, such as cell phones with high-quality cameras and Internet compatibility.

The demographic for cool devices, meanwhile, keeps getting younger and younger. Heck, my 9-year-old is badgering me for a cell phone, noting that three students in this third-grade class already have one.

And just a few minutes ago, I was on the phone with a publicist who bemoaned her own experience during a recent visit with two younger siblings.

“It's not so much pulling kids away from the television anymore,” she said, “as it is yanking them from their cell phones or PDAs.”

Studios are smart to jump on the UMD bandwagon, and retailers should follow their lead and dedicate more space to this emerging format.

Sony's PSP is still something of a high-end gadget, but it's certainly found favor among the cutting-edge consumer. And that's precisely the type of customer every retailer should want, and needs, in his or her store.

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