So Much for Mobile Music

16 Comments

Update: I went to pick up the phone at the Cingular store to buy the iTunes phone, but they are only selling it online for now. There goes one impulse buy. Now that I have had a chance to look at the “worst kept secret” on the planet, I will spend my $250 on food and wine. From the looks of it, this is as expected – a disappointment that ranks pretty closely next to all those LG/Samsung music playback phones. Mobiledia has the details on the precise release dates for the ROKR/iTunes phone. iPod Nano looks good, but the question is what will I do with my iPod Mini and iShuffle. I think Apple failed to pry open my wallet this time around. Next!

Cingular is launching iTunes phone, which if you want will allow you to download music for $2 a song. Only a crazy person would do that since a song when downloaded on the computer costs $0.99 a track, and hopefully will be easy to upload onto the phone with a capacity for a whopping 25 tracks. Another shocker – Verizon is improving the admittedly clunky LG VX 8100 so that people can load music on “memory cards” and listen to the tunes. Two news items seemingly unrelated make me wonder if the mobile music service madness that has gripped most carriers is finally coming to an end. Hopefully, for it could be me looking for sanity in middle of you know, insanity.

Reuters quotes Yankee Group analyst Linda Barrabee as saying, “There’s very little room for profits from the full over-the-air download market.” Finally a rational voice!

In Europe, O2 and T-Mobile are also getting jiggy with the iTunes phone. Why? Lance Wilson, ABI Research’s director of wireless research, “We have refined our appraisal of GSM/GPRS/EDGE versus WCDMA. The uptake of WCDMA is not likely to be as rapid as was once thought. It will show good growth, but there is still a lot of life left in GSM.” Oops – not enough customers who can “rapidly download music” on fast networks. Will operators in other countries follow? I hope they do! Between you and I, I get a feeling this iTunes Phone might actually be a bit of a let down.

Video-capable iPod – now that would be nice and worth spending some hard earned dollars on. I cannot wait to load-up three seasons worth of Alias on the mythical Video iPod.

16 Comments

Simon

The iTunes Phone isn’t about selling music over the air. It is about maintaining the dominance of Apple in the digital music download. The keynote speech Steve Jobs all but said that the iTunes phone is aimed squarely at the Shuffle market. Just as the nano replaces the mini. Essentially Steve Jobs has made most of the other wireless music download systems uneconomical for users. Not when they can purchase and synch music through their PCs at 99c as opposed to $2+

swissfondue

The concept of a cellphone with iTunes and ITMS compatibility is not moronic for two reasons. 1:you can buy a song based on a whim and be assured that it will later by synched to your computer and iPod. 2) Anyone who is on the phone a lot can still listen to music between conversations without needing to switch to a pda/iPod/other MP3 player.

However the ROKR is not the all-in-one solution. It primarily remains a phone. It is not a portable digital multi-media center nor a replacement for an mp3 player. But it could be sufficient for some peoples music listening needs.

Dave

Jeez, didn’t ANY of you read the specs? Why are you still “reviewing” this phone based on rumor?????
1. Enuff with the “$2 downloads” crap. This is a phone with iPod shuffle capability built in- you sync it with iTunes the usual way and load it the same way as a shuffle- no downloading via the carrier required.
2. It is limited to a playlist of 100 tunes, no matter what size card you stick in it- this apparently was a requirement of the carriers. You can load as much as you want, but it can’t total more than 100- at least on this phone.
3. The whole concept of a cellphone/music player is moronic, and is doomed to failure. Nobody wants to go jogging with their cellphone clutched in their sweaty little hands- this is a niche of a niche market- but Apple will participate if only to show that they can, and to offer the convenience of the iTMS experience to anyone who wants to go this way.

As for the nano – what, are you kidding me? It blows anything else out of the water. Sure, if you already own a shuffle AND a mini, you have no compelling reason to buy one- even though it provides the best features of both players into one player, that is better than either. Smaller, lighter, sexier, color screen, and you can use all your pre-existing dock connector accessories- but hey, that’s no reason to throw out your shuffle and mini.

Of course, you could sell them on ebay…

Nick

Read the specs before you write. It has EXPANDABLE MEMORY, so by carrying around a postage stamp or two, you could easily hit a few gigs. And as TransFlash cards get bigger, you can carry fewer cards!

You wouldn’t pay $2 to directly download it into your phone, but you’d run out as soon as the phone is announced to buy it for $250-350 to replace devices you already have? I think if you’d do that, there’d be tons of people who would pay LESS THAN A RINGTONE to get a full song when they hear it or when a friend mentions it. However, it doesn’t even look like it supports direct download from ITMS anyway.

For those of you fanboys who would die without an iPod (I have a Mini and a Creative Zen Micro), this is the perfect combo. Phone w/ camera w/ bluetooth w/ iPod + Expandable memory. And affordably priced for what it has included.

RobotDeathSquad

I can’t believe you don’t like the Nano. It’s what the mini should have been. I’m waiting for the first revision, but it’s still a really really solid product. 14 hours battery life as well? How does that not pry you wallet open?

Scott

Correction to my previous post…

….W800 and ROKR both seem to have ~ 512 MB…

Scott

W800 and ROKR both seem to have ~ 512 KB for music storage. The ROKR seems to have a much more strigent “100 Songs” limit. So on the surface the ROKR is for SUKRs, the W800 isn’t much better but at least you can add more space. The N91 from Nokia holds more, 4GB, we will see if that ever makes it stateside. For my iTunes phone, I am considering gluing a NANO to a RAZR and coming up with a DIY phone that is better than all of them.

Why doesn’t apple come out with something that bridges the gap btwn 4Gb and 20GB. I was really hoping for a 10GB mini with bluetooth headphones. I guess that will come out after christmas.

Digital Evangelost

Om just have to say that my Sony Ericsson W800 is a great phone for the weekends when I no longer am a worker but rather a taxi driver. I have a device that lets me carry around some of my music collection without having to take another device and still be able to make calls and text.

As for downloading ringtones well as a 40 something I do pay for the odd update to my handset. I do not buy a new ringtone every month and have so far been able to keep a crazy frog off my handsets. The only issue I have with DRM is that the tones should be stored on my SIM so that I can “own” the content on all of my handsets.

Michael

Remember that the $2-4 ring tones are bringing in over a billion dollars a year. Wild, but people are not like some of us, and will splurge enough to make $2 viable at times when someone just MUST have a song

Jake

name – you will be the last holdout. The digital music industry exists and compressed music downloads are a distribution mechanism of that industry. Like most marketplaces, the merchants in this ecosystem do not (yet!) hold guns to the heads of unwilling participants. They simply let you go. No protest is required!

Music recordings are lossy captures of live performances. Or, more likely, highly produced creations of performances that never actually took place as a whole, single event. When the wonderful, digital CDs came out, the audiophiles complained of the loss of range and warmth. When music playback moved to DACs, the audiophiles started hoarding the tube amplifiers.

I have a shelf of vinyl – wonderfully scratched, dusty, and warped. With a dead turntable. I’d call this lossy.

I have eight tracks with the labels scraped off and no place to play them. I’d call this lossy.

I have cassette tapes in a packing box. Most of the cassettes have some sort of fold or twist in the tape, the labels are faded from the sun pounding them on my car seat and they sound terrible. I’d call this lossy.

I have CDs. Of course this was lossy to begin with (according to the audiophiles) and some of these are scratched (car abuse again) or scraped with spots. Lossy.

I haven’t invested in SACD or DVD music – but with history as my guide – I’m sure this would turn lossy on me too.

Someday my DRMed, lossy compressed downloaded AAC and Windows Media music will disappear as well.

I just hope that I have been able to derive $1 worth of value out of it before that time comes.

Don

“Only a crazy person would do that since a song when downloaded on the computer costs $0.99 a track…”

Is that like anyone who goes to a 7-11 to buy something is crazy because they can travel to the outskirts of town to get it more cheaply at WalMart? Or is that like anyone who goes to Mickey D’s for a burger is crazy because they could buy all the ingredients at the supermarket and make a burger for less?

Hmm. Perhaps it would be more crazy to write down the name of a song you hear, wait until you get home, download the song to your computer, figure out how to upload it to your phone, etc.

People pay for convenience, and you’d be crazy not to recognize that.

name

I am not about to pay $1 for a lossy soundtrack. In fact, I value a lossy song recording at about, well, zero. I might consider paying as much as $2 for an uncompressed, unDRMed song. But the only reason for that is because most CDs only have one or two songs that are enjoyable (to me).

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