Study sees more online demand than rival one

Andersen values market for trade books by 2005 at over $3.1 bil more than Forrester

NEW YORK — By 2005, the market for multimedia content over the Web could be dramatically bigger than analysts currently anticipate, according to a study conducted by Andersen Consulting’s media division.

Andersen said the potential e-market for trade books will reach $3.2 billion by 2005, compared with a Forrester Research estimate of $400 million. For music, Andersen put the 2005 market at $3.2 billion, compared with a $1.1 billion estimate from Forrester. The firm also projected a $3.1 billion video-on-demand market, with no comparable Forrester number.

But media companies won’t see those numbers unless they keep a sharp eye on what consumers really want from online content, maintained the study’s author, Andersen partner Ken Mifflin: According to the roughly 600 consumers polled, primarily in malls across the country, that means much wider availability of content, as well as devices that are more durable and far easier to use than today’s high-tech gadgets.

Taking steps

According to a panel of media execs that discussed the study Tuesday morning, the industry already has begun taking steps to meet those demands.

Laurence J. Kirschbaum, who chairs Time Warner’s trade book division, said his department hopes to have 1,000 titles available in electronic format by the end of the year.

On the e-music side, availability is not so much the issue as how to get people to pay for it — and that’s a question no one seems ready to answer. Karl Slatoff, veep of new media at BMG Entertainment, said it will help a lot if the makers of digital music players and other hardware can produce machines that accommodate all the different technological standards that the majors are adopting today.

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