Will Mobile Phones Kill IPod?

21 Comments

Smartphones with built in MP3 playback features are going to kill IPod or so contends Reuters.

The introduction of Samsung’s (000830.KS: Quote, Profile, Research) new SPH-V5400 handset last month is considered one of the most interesting developments in the MP3 market as it is the first mobile phone with a built-in hard drive. Some analysts believe the mobile phone with hard disc capacity could revolutionize the MP3 player market just as the camera phone did for the photography world. “There’s no reason to think we won’t have a five-gigabyte hard drive on the market next year,” said Hubert Gertis, a technology analyst for Berlin-based consultancy Gertis Media.

How about power consumption? I just don’t buy “phone as an IPod Killer” argument. Sure on some occasions, I use Treo 600, or a borrowed Pocket PC phone as a Mp3 player, but the sound quality doesn’t match; the user interface sucks and oh did I mention, the sound quality sucks. IPod is a music player and music player only. Phone makers are turning these handsets into swiss army knives, but are not focusing on making them easy to use, or improve the interfaces. Sure you can turn it into a PDA and an MP3 player, but then a $50,000 GMS truck with DVD player and all the other crap is still a truck.

Troy worries about IPod’s future and thinks that Steve Jobs should greenlight a cell phone. I am not sure if Jobs would ever do that, but I for one would buy such a device. I believe embedding ITunes into phones is a better way to go for the company, for it would be yet another extension for Apple’s music store, and of course it would inspire people to get IPod to really enjoy the music.

What I still think Jobs can do is make IPod more wireless enabled and part of a “wireless bubble” that we carry around with us all the time. I think the 5G and 6G of IPods would have more value added, but without taking away much from the original simplistic design. As for 40GB hard drives on the phone, well it is still about 5-to-10 years in the future, prices are still an X-factor and the battery power is a huge issue. Oh by the way did I mention, the phones still need to get used to being better phones.

Scooble things phones will kill IPOD. Wishful thinking folks

21 Comments

simon

I already use a Nokia 6230 with a 1Gb MMC, and it works well for me. The software is a dog, though- anyone who could improve on that would win my custom straight away. I think I’ll be back with the Sony Ericsson models soon enough. Just as with cameraphones, smartphone MP3 players are ‘just there’ – they don’t have to be great, they just add to your everyday experience. Those with iPods, all well and good, but there are still more of us out here without!

Haig S.

It’s a classic disruption case: music-via-cellPhone isn’t good enough, but when it is why would anyone want to by a separate mp3 player ? Power consumption, sound quality, bandwidth, storage capacity; these are all increasing rapidly and are on track to reach a good-enough state for mobile music over cell phones in the not to distant future. The wild cards are actually how the things will interface with the user and manage all the functionality of the device.

-UI: Apple can still find a place in the chain by licensing out an iPod-like UI to use on the cell-phones. This is basicly the only part of the iPod actually developed in-house and what adds most of the value.

-DRM: always a controversial subject…but if all music is streamed a la the “celestial jukebox” method (think wireless rhapsody to ur phone/home) then it becomes less of an issue. PS: This eliminates the need for huge storage devices on the phone.

This doesn’t seem to be the way Apple is going though because it completely undermines Steve Jobs’ vision which he continually chants: “People want to download and own their music” versus streaming. It’ll happen eventually, who and in what form its provided are the real questions…

Om

typical hard drive growth curve is doubling of hard drive capacity at the same price every 12 months. so in that sense you could expect the prices and capacity of 40 gigs in about six to eight years. i agree that it might eventually happen. but when not if is the big question.

lastly, i think the big question most people forget is the folks at apple are not stupid. they won’t sit idle, and if the past success is any indication, then they know when and what product works at least when compared to other so called computer to consumer wannabes.

Permanent4

Isn’t the Archos AV500 going to be a Linux/QTopia PDA with a 20GB or 40GB hard drive built-in for MP3 and DivX playback and storage? Wouldn’t a combination PDA/MP3 player seem a little more natural than a phone/MP3 player? After all, you could always use Bluetooth to connect your PDA and phone…

Sebhelyesfarku

“…As for 40GB hard drives on the phone, well it is still about 5-to-10 years in the future,…”

No way. There’s already mobile phone with 1″ hard disk, 1 year and there’ll be phones with 10-20GB hard disks.

Todd Allen

Troy:

I disagree. Depending on the operator you can already get *decent* data connections. GPRS is useless of course, but the current Sprint network pulls *moderately* good speeds already. Granted the coverage is less than ideal, but you could still buffer ahead.

It’s not here today, but the data speeds will get here sooner rather than later. I’d be shocked if the battery/cost issues were solved for phones before I could stream music to one.

As for audio calls.. yes, it’s tricky, but remember that data can deal with bad connections far better than voice. If you drop data packets you can re-transmit them.. if you drop chunks of voice, you can’t simply put them back later and still have a normal conversation.

Troy Angrignon

Veeral, Steve Jobs has already stated unequivocally that they will not enter the phone business.

And Todd Allen, it currently costs my clients $50-100USD/mo for crappy email access on their PDAs and phones. The idea of streaming your music from your home server across the house via WiFi (AirTunes) is fine, but sending 128Kbps streams across your phone is laughable. We can’t even get phones to stay connected for AUDIO calls yet. I agree with you that you don’t want all of you data on the phone but you’ll probably have a small subset of your music on the phone and the rest on the server and the iPod. At least until you get that 40GB hard drive in your phone…

Todd Allen

A phone with a hard drive isn’t going to kill the IPod… A phone with a fast network will kill the IPod.

We don’t need hard drives on our phones! I’ve got a 200 GB drive in my home server where I store all my MP3’s. Right now I have to sync them over to my IPod to travel, but with the advent of 3G, or possibly the Flarions it will become possible to stream music to your device.

I can envision using the on device storage for buffer space to cover for bad connections, but thats about it.

I don’t want all my data on my phone at once… I just want access to all my data!

Veeral

What about Apple integrating phone functionality into the iPod itself? if my Mini were slightly bigger and only lasted 4-5hr on play, 4 days on standby because it was also my phone, i wouldn’t mind. by end of 06, i bet that same device would last as long as an ipod and be a great phone as well… color screen, all major features, etc.

Charlie Sierra

Hello???

Isn’t everybody forgeting that the biggest liability for a cellphone iPod challenger is the greedy carriers.

At 99cts per song (88 @ Wal-Mart), there is precious little room for another hand in the cookie jar.

The real issue here is how fast removable storage arrives on the phone platform. This weekend at Fry’s I could get a 1GB SD card for ~$80, which holds about 200 songs. So I can simply copy my own .ogg files to this card and pop it into my phone, and when this happens its game over for carriers and iTunes.

PS. I recently consulted my local CD shop and I was completely shocked to find that they’ve slashed the in store inventory by 70%. This place looked awful because it was so empty. The owner tells me that 1200 – 1500 local CD stores have closed in the last 2 years, and that he makes much more money from dealing in used CDs.

So the moral to this story is that now is the time to unload your old CDs to buy a fancy pants new cellphone with a SD card slot.

Om

I think from a consumer perspective, this is all going to turn into a really expensive proposition. Lets assume a 1 GB memory card for about $100 plus $400 bucks on average for a smart phone, the device ends up costing around $500. Other costs include buying a memory card reader. The biggest issue I see is that cell phone companies have to come up with a software solution that makes it painless for people to transfer digital tracks and manage them on the phone. lets see

Damian

Comparing what is a first generation MP3 phone against an iPod isn’t exactly fair – so I’d wait and see where it is in 6 months…my guess is that we’ll see rapid improvement in the quality of audio from phones. And remember, a hard drive isn’t absolutely necessary – I think that memory cards, as they get bigger than 1GB, will be a viable alternative for a lot of people.

Kevin

If the iPod product remains stationary, then in the longer run, the music-enabled cell phone will kill it because everything is getting smaller. But the iPod will not remain a stationary target, i.e., what if iPod became a WiMax device…

The music-enabled cell phone by the end of 2005 will kill off all but the most miniaturized flash-based music players. That’s why rumors of a flash-based iPod (that’s not a Motorola cell phone) are ludicrous.

bevonovo

While a phone is primarily an active device (I do things through/with it), the iPod is primarily a passive device (it gives to me). Sorry for the lame abstraction, but I think that’s why iPod functionality won’t be successful on the phone. A concrete example: I’m driving down the freeway listening to the Pretender’s “I’ll stand by you” (http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?playlistId=19442207&selectedItemId=19442262) when I receive a call. Whom DO I stand by? Does the music pause while I take the call? Go into background mode?

I think the conflict is a distraction from making a great music player in the one hand, and a great phone, in the other.

Bill Koslosky

Covergence equals convenience in not having to manage multiple sevs of rechargeable batteries, which is the reason I settled on the Treo. And the average geek will be seeking more features on their smartphones, not fewer.

When it comes to the very hot, push casting voice mp3s, the Treo’s pTunes software works very well.

I generally disagree with the notion that X will “kill” Y in the tech food chain. But I wouldn’t discount the attractiveness of the newer crop of smartphones.

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