Online Music Is Mobile Music

iPodFor a while there has been a differentiation in the press between “online music” and “mobile music”, a distinction which is becoming more and more facetious. The phones that will most likely be used to play mobile music are also the ones most likely to connect to the home computer, and the most likely outcome is that users will be able to move songs between their phone and their computer easily — DRM wars notwithstanding.
Case in point is this NetImperative article about Apples’ unannounced launch of music videos on its iTunes service last week, although its unclear what role the music videos are currently playing. “I can get the downloaded video to play on my phone (a small one-off payment for Quicktime Pro),” writes Charles Arthur. Currently the only indication Apple has given of allowing songs bought on its iTunes store to play on mobile phones is the tardy iTunes handset it will put out with Motorola, but some people think Apple will soon release a program to allow iTunes songs to play on mobiles, even though Apple gets its profit from selling iPods. Even if Apple doesn’t follow this road (which I don’t think will damage its business too much) plenty of other online music stores will.
Yahoo Music LogoI’m sure everyone noticed Yahoo’s entry into online music…although the press was focused on the low price (which is only an introductory price, so the idea that others will have to drop their price as well is a bit premature) Yahoo pointed out the fact that “Yahoo! Music Unlimited uses the WMA format and Windows Media Digital Rights Management 10 (WM DRM 10). This support enables subscription tracks to be transferred to any portable device that supports WM DRM 10.”
All this indicates that music downloaded to your computer can effectively be considered mobile music. The only fly in the ointment is that record labels charge an extra $2 for subscription services that can be transfered to mobile devices.
Of course, other people are predicting that music and video on mobile phones will end up being streamed to the device rather than stored on it. While the bandwidth for this isn’t there yet, at least not for high-quality video, it will be there soon. Whether the operators have the capacity for a large number of customers using the network in this way is another matter.
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