Sunday, 25 January 2009

Words from the wise

Back in 1992, I worked on a 'futures' project at KPMG - looking at likely changes in a range of industries.  One of these was media, so we gathered input from the great Paul Styles OBE (media guru bar none).  I remember Paul's prediction that we were the last generation who would buy music in physical form - telling us that we would listen to it on demand over networks.  This was, as I said, 1992 - certainly before I was using the Internet (and I suspect you too).
This week, the Guardian's Technology section caught up with Paul.  "Forget your iPod" was the message on the front page, thought not repeated in the article itself.  Basic messages were that
  • only a small percentage of iPod music is purchased downloads, and the the vast majority of downloads are not purchased
  • streaming music (from YouTube, MySpace, Pandora, Last, etc) is already taken hold - used not just on PCs, but also on the iPhone, etc
At one level, of course all this is true, but it makes me think three things:
  • there's a lot of things we learnt 10-15 years ago being presented as new news.  In the rush to understand what's happening now, we'd do well to listen a little more to those who were around before and during the first Internet rush.  They, at least, have been through one crash and burn
  • kind of misses the point about the iPod - as it morphs in any case into the iPhone; as we see WiFi growing across wider areas (so the iPod Touch becomes closer to an 'always-on' wired device) - so the iPod could remain a key device - the issue is surely the iTunes model, not the iPod at all.  In other words we need to think more about the underlying issue and models, looking at how things are developing, rather than drawing the seemingly obvious and (obviously) wrong conclusions
  • how could they fail to mention Wolfgang's Concert Vault? A great iPhone app, as well as browser - check it out.

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