Digital media is the new focus for technology convergence and the impact will be felt across multiple industries, new research from iSuppli claims.

“Over the last three years, broadband has become ubiquitous, both in the wired and wireless worlds,” said Mark Kirstein, vice president of multimedia content and services at iSuppli. “Worldwide broadband subscribers have reached 248 million, while the number of 3G wireless subscribers will pass one billion at the end of 2006. The electronics industry now is turning its attention to delivering the high-value applications and content that will capitalise on these fast-access networks.”

The implications of this are huge, as virtually all technology markets are being driven by media distribution, the analyst explains.

iSuppli predicts that portable media player shipments will grow by over 30 per cent this year, reaching 160 million sales — fantastic news for Apple and its iPod product range.

More potential for Apple is the analyst's claims that music player-enabled mobile phones will sell 300 million units this year, driving an explosion in music download to mobile phone services, which will net $15 billion by 2010.

In other highlights to illustrate the impact of the media age, the analysts expect IPTV subscriptions to climb to over 65 million by 2010. Mobile video seems set to make an impact too, with over 100 million subscribers likely by 2010, according to iSuppli.

The Apple TV is a media home networking product. iSuppli expects more than 180 million such internet-enabled consumer devices will ship by 2010.

And there's other impact, too: mobile gaming revenue grew by nearly 80 per cent in 2005. Revenue from video on demand services delivered via cable, IPTV and broadband will approach $2 billion in 2006.

However, the analysts believe that incompatible digital rights management (DRM) systems will restrict market growth, as they restrict consumers in their desire to shift content between platforms in an anytime, anywhere age.

"This DRM problem will remain an obstacle to content interoperability and will hinder the greater growth of the digital content distribution market for several more years," iSuppli predicts.
"All roads lead to digital media distribution," they warn.