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Although virtually every web service and consumer business is becoming more mobile-focused, a service that focuses on sharing sounds is uniquely suited to being mobile because sound is not dependent on a big screen or features that are harder to replicate on a small device, SoundCloud co-founder Alex Ljung told GigaOM’s RoadMap conference in San Francisco on Monday. “It’s great for us, because sound is inherently non-visual,” he said. “And you can even put the device in your pocket and still keep listening to it.”
Ljung said that unlike some other music or performance-focused services, SoundCloud’s focus is not just music but any kind of sound — from audio books to recordings of conference calls like Facebook’s earnings call, or the embedded audio that bloggers like venture capitalist Fred Wilson use. “It’s really natural when you think about it, because sound is a huge part of the way we experience the world,” he said. The company’s mobile app recently passed 10 million downloads on iOS and Android.
The size of the market means the potential opportunity for SoundCloud is huge, Ljung said, but it also means that it’s easy to try and do everything all at once, because there are so many potential ways to create and share sound. In addition to mobile, one of the ways the service is expanding its reach is through partnerships with companies like Apple — which built support for SoundCloud sharing into GarageBand — and Flipboard.
The company is also working on a redesign of the service that is currently in private beta. Ljung said that it is much faster, and also has a range of new features, including the ability to share sounds in different ways and to create collections of sounds that share certain attributes. There is also a continuous play feature so that users can listen to something while they are browsing through other content, and there are real-time notifications of new content.
When it comes to the future of sound, Ljung said he dreams about a day when it is just a standard part of how we experience the web: “When do we get to the point where I can listen to the internet and talk to the internet? That’s kind of out there, but it’s what I like to think about.”
Check out the rest of our RoadMap 2012 live coverage here, and a video recording of the session follows below: