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Summary:

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 […]

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

  1. Om, I blogged about this on September 7th (http://www.troyangrignon.com/blog/_archives/2004/9/7/136741.html) and am interested in your comments on that posting.

    Even if Apple doesn’t license the iPod app to the phone manufacturers (something that I think would make them a lot of money and continue to ensure their dominance), others will surely combine their lower-quality MP3 players into the phones.

    Thoughts?

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  2. 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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  3. 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.

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  4. 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.

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  5. 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.

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  6. 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

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  7. Charlie Sierra Monday, October 18, 2004

    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.

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  8. 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.

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  9. 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!

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