In the latest investors update, Archos is confirming that their next development will be to release a HSDPA powered Archos device in collaboration with HSDPA service providers. They are also planing to phase out Mp3 players and players that are not connected to the Internet, such as the 105, 204 and 405.
These are the features which I expect from the HSDPA device, which Archos could perhaps announce at CES on January 5-11th in Las Vegas, to fit the announcement nicely just before the MacWorld, but I guess that Archos might prefer to not show it yet since it might also still be in development to integrate advanced features such as:
- VOIP if not able to convince Skype to work with them, then SIP for sure,
- GPS or somekind of mobile antenna triangulation for providing positionning services
- A more compact form factor (smaller buttons on each side of the touch-screen)
- Google Android integration for access to Android apps on HSDPA,
- WiFi should also still stay (deals can thus only be with HSDPA providers that allow WiFi and VOIP),
- Device for 1€ with a 6-12-24 month 20€ per month subscription to the Archos Content Portal and to services such as VOIP-out,
- More VOD content providers including services that provide film and music subscriptions for unlimited access to all content, possible content providers for the Content Portal in the EU, in Asia and in the USA such as Circuit City, Best Buy, WalMart, Amazon and Vongo.
- Powerful Social Networking integration layers in more than just Widgets such as “Party Finder”, “Sports Meetup”, “Politics Meetup”, “Dating”, Facebook apps, Instant Messaging, Chat, Twitter/Jaiku, Open Social with GPS and more..
- Archos needs a deal with Nintendo for legal pay-per-game access to all NES and SNES games through emulation, requires buttons are on each side of the screen to provide a usable interface for gaming.
Hopefully that all current 605 WiFi owners will also have access to all these HSDPA features through firmware updates and the possible availabillity of a new HSDPA Dock that would look a bit like the Battery Dock, and comes to add HSDPA connectivity to the 5th generation. Although the next generation Archos device with built-in HSDPA will be the more compact and better optimized solution.
How soon will this device be officially unveiled and be launched around the world? I wouldn’t be able to know exactly, it may be unveiled as soon as CES, and it may not be released for many months, but I think Archos has been working on 3G integration for more than a year already, so perhaps the technology is about to be ready for them by now.
Perhaps the only barrier to launching would be interesting bandwidth deals with the established HSDPA providers that exist today in most countries. I think Archos may do it a little bit like Amazon does it with the Kindle on EV-DO. Provide the machine for an attractive price with a 20€ content subscription and the HSDPA bandwidth being included since the money to pay for that bandwidth is included in the price of the VOD content. That does require that HSDPA bandwidth will be sufficient to support video streaming, so perhaps there will be lower bitrate versions of some videos optimized for HSDPA delivery from certain VOD stores, while I guess streaming Flash video bitrates at around 300kbit/s should be ok for using on HSDPA today. Thus for access to free content, there would be a prepaid per-100mb bandwidth fee, 1€ or less per 100mb, perhaps even 1€ per GB, if that can cover HSDPA bandwidth costs, then that would make this business model very attractive.