The PSP has the potential to be the biggest must-have item in the history of the world. I'm not going to state the obvious that the PSP will play video games, so I will skip right along to discuss its capability to play music, movies and to serve as a book. All these functions will significantly influence the purchasing habits of consumers and will greatly impact these different industries.
First of all, the PSP plays MP3 ATRAC3 Plus files. Sony will probably disconinue its lower end models of MiniDisc players. And why not? A typical consumer will not bother to buy a product that provides only one facet of entertainment when there is another product that performs other functions. Moreover, Sony's Universal Media Disc (UMD) has a 1.8GB capacity which is more than 2.5 times the capacity of a regular MiniDisc (700MB). If Sony were smart (and I'm sure it is), it will make blank UMDs available to consumers. Of course, this may be Sony's Achille's heel if programmers or hackers find a way to pirate games. But I'm pretty confident that Sony will find a solution to make it not completely vulnerable to piracy.
Music on-the-go has spread like a wild fire with the introduction of peer-to-peer file sharing, and movie downloading will quickly follow. With movies already available to download on the Internet, and the PSP's ability to play MPEGs, this combination will trigger a whole new culture of downloading. This will lead to an uproar in the movie industry over piracy and copyright infringement. And it too will eventually resort to digital distribution of its products. Or movies may possibly be available in Sony's UMD format along with the DVD format. Wouldn't that be interesting?
As for picture quality, the movies will be displayed on the PSP's small screen, so it will be clear and crisp. Whether the UMD has the capacity to hold movie files is not even worth questioning. Whole movies of VCD-quality can be stored on a single regular CD. Those movies are intended for a larger screen, namely a TV or a monitor, so a movie file for the PSP will be much smaller. And remember, a regular CD can only hold up to 700MB, whereas the UMD can hold approximately 1.8GB.
Lastly, the PSP can function as a book. If it can play video games, music and movies, then it can certainly display simple text and still pictures. Although, e-books already exist, they never caught on. But with the PSP serving as a multi-media unit, the popularity of the e-book will definitely increase with that of the PSP. Can you imagine having the whole Harry Potter collection on one single UMD?
My only gripe with the PSP is its design, well its inital concept design. I sincerely hope the PSP will not lean toward the "large eyeglasses" container look. I'm quite partial to the flip-over design as in the GB Advance SP which is reminiscent of a lap top, very much like a mini-version of my own actually. Most likely however, there will be at least two versions of the PSP, one with a snap on cover, and the other with a flip-over cover (and in many, many different colours).
Of course, the PSP may also blow up in Sony's face. Since it performs multi-media functions: music, movies and books, it may carry a large price tag. But most likely, Sony will sell the PSP for less than the manufacturing cost much like other video game consoles. With the right marketing, it can become the next great electronic device since the introducton of the DVD player, or MP3 player.