Upon reading my daily newsletters from PCMag, Gearlog, and Gizmodo, I’m struck by how many major publications continue to call the device we used to know as the “MP3 Player” but its old moniker, instead of switching us into the 21st century and encouraging the use of the less-known “PMP” or even “PM Player” – the Portable Media Player. Right there – simple, catchy, and all-encompassing.

When was the last time you ever saw an electronic, portable music playing device that only played MP3’s? For that matter, when was the last time that the most well known music-playing devices could only play music? Creative, Apple, iRiver, Sandisk – they all have released mainstream players that play different kinds of video files. Even the Apple players can play one kind of video file, and a limited selection of audio types (You’re right, I am mocking the fact that the most famous player in the world is woefully behind what other brands can do). Apple would probably in fact prefer that you didn’t use MP3’s at all, and instead used their AAC files instead. So why do we call, for example, the iPod an MP3 Player? It’s completely incorrect!

So what are we waiting for? The consumers aren’t going to be able to figure this out for themselves; these are the people who walk into Best Buy and say “gimme one of them there i-Thingies” while clearly pointing at a Playstation. No, the initiative has to be taken by our major tech publications, and then filter down into the common lexicon. I’m only one man; I can’t go around correcting everyone who uses improper terminology. But the longer we stay rooted in these mid-nineties reminders of when there was only one format, and video on a personal player was unheard of – the harder it will be to get out of.

As much as I am a skeptic of the iPhone, I will champion it for being one of the first devices that had music-playing capabilities as a primary function that was able to lose the “MP3 Player” title. And why? Because Apple took steps to make sure it was branded as a phone first, and the people accepted that. So there is hope, after all. We just need to keep at it.

note: Ironically, the iPhone is a better Portable Media Player than a phone. Go figure, right?