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article imageOp-Ed: End of the iPod? Wi-Fi changing the download market

By Paul Wallis     Sep 16, 2009 in Technology
The new theory is that the iPod is on the way out, because new types of connectivity are eroding its market share. If you’ve got phone and some earplugs, do you need an iPod? Now they’re wondering what effect this will have on music downloads.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, which got the Guardian article from its sister publication, Melbourne’s Age (no wonder journalists are an endangered species) the problem is the diversification of methods will cut into Apple’s main cash cow:
… But if you look closely, signs the stand-alone player is in decline are all around. The first, and most obvious, was Apple's announcement in its latest quarterly results that iPod sales fell year-on-year for the first time since the product's launch in October 2001. As the iPod dominates the market for DMPs, any drop in its sales indicates a fall in the market.
So the market leader’s unit sales are down, meaning a shift in buying patterns. Now, follow the logic:
That, in turn, carries serious risks for the music industry, which has surfed along on the iPod boom, warns the vice-president of global media practice at analysis company Forrester Research, Mark Mulligan. Digital music downloads have been driven by DMP (digital media player) sales growth.
This is a bit wide of the mark. People don’t base their music listening on devices. Unfortunately the music ‘industry’ will continue to fester on for a while, until someone figures out a way of getting those damn office boys out of the arts altogether.
Heartily as I personally wish the recording industry and its enchanting deadbeat parasites to spend eternity in one of the less appealing areas of the rectum of hell:
What’s happening is that the rise in different forms of access to downloads is diluting the market, and more importantly for music, reshaping the market. It’s quite easy to get huge amounts of music from other sources, and load up your phone or some other media.
The assumption is that devices are driving sales of music. In practice, the industry has been getting a broad spectrum boost from the rise in accessibility. This looks like the spread of media access has simply bitten into the iPod’s huge market. Downloads are the inevitable way of the future, and really, if you know how, you could build a crystal set and download with that. All you need is the wireless receiver and the software.
The probability is that the download market will expand into a far easier to sell framework, not specific device-dependent. The great myth of hardware is that it’s the defining medium. That’s why we’ve had all these ridiculous hardware issues with so many forms of media. It was a defining force, back in the days of vacuum tubes and transistors, but not now. These days, it’s in the way.
It’s also a marketing obstacle. All the proprietary stuff has created a situation which actually obstructs sales. People don’t want to have to buy whole new systems to listen to music. Why would they? I think Apple has enough strength in its iTunes portfolio, as a known good brand, to overcome the iPod addiction and come out on top, just working as a sales point with a reliable medium that will run anything on anything.
People would buy music if they had to listen to it on tin cans and string. The DMP may be about to merge with all the other personal accessories, but that doesn’t mean the world has ended quite yet.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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