by Megan Santosus

Pocket PC Films Puts Movies on PDAs

Feb 15, 20032 mins
MobileSmall and Medium Business

Darrell Griffin hates to fly, so it was with no small degree of trepidation that he faced a flight from Los Angeles to New York a couple of years ago. Desperate for a distraction, Griffin, a film producer at the time, turned to his business partner for help. “To take my mind off the flight, he put a film on my handheld PC,” Griffin says. The movie was Hercules Unchained, starring Steve Reeves. The diversion worked, and by the time Griffin landed in New York, he had an idea for a new business.

When they returned to L.A., Griffin and his partner sat down to figure out how they could turn that distraction into a business. “Pocket PCs are synced up all the time,” Griffin says. “We wanted to figure out how to create a retail product.” They devised a technology to compress filmed content from CD-ROMs into a format PDAs could display. Then in November 2001, Griffin helped launch Pocket PC Films, in Sherman Oaks, Calif., to distribute video content for Pocket PC and Palm OS devices. Film fans can buy CD-ROM titles, load them on their computer and sync them into their handheld device. (The films will also run on desktop PCs, but the format remains handheld-size due to licensing issues.)

Griffin, now president of Pocket PC Films, has high hopes. “The market is growing faster than we thought,” he says. “Dataquest estimates that 23 million PDAs will be shipped in 2003, but that was before Dell and ViewSonic announced plans to offer models.”

Pocket PC Films now distributes 25,000 titles, priced from $9.99 to $49.99, that run the gamut from 1941’s King of the Zombies to Oliver Stone’s more recent Natural Born Killers. The company also provides self-help and business-oriented content, as well as classic TV packs with shows like Dragnet and the Sports Illustrated’s “Swimsuit 2002” special?the most popular title so far.