There’s a stack of rumours abound that Apple are hard at work making an ‘iPhone’, an iPod and phone combination. Their recent partnership with Motorola and the ROKR and SLVR phones with iTunes signifies some interest at least in the mobile phone area.
I read an article on ITWire – An Australian IT site called “iPod soon a museum item as cellphones rule” and I wasn’t sure I agreed with the point that the writer Stan Beer was making. Basically his point was that standalone mp3 players such as iPods and also PDAs will be made redundant by mobile phones due to phones getting better mp3 features and bigger storage making them more competitive.
He suggests that the fact that phones come with a lot of other features like cameras, pda-like functions, TV access that this makes them a more attractive option to people, additionally he states, “they also offer a better way to get music“. It’s basically on that point that I think he’s missing something.
The missing issue is that mobile phone companies like to charge a good premium for things like buying music or ringtones online. Unless the cost of buying music is the same £0.99 / $0.99 or less that people pay per track via normal web access then people won’t sign up wholesale to purchase music via mobile phones, it means that people would use it much like the Motorola ROKR phone with iTunes and just transfer from their desktop computer.
Hopefully companies like Helios in the US with their new approach in providing price plans and services targeted at letting people use mobiles to access services such as MySpace or chat apps etc will push the bar for this kind of thing and make the price of mobile web access much much cheaper. Just now it’s pretty expensive, just take a look at Japan and then apply the kind of services they have to the UK and US and maybe people using the “iPhone” to buy music wirelessly will happen. Maybe Apple will just add WiFi to the phone and people can avoid having to use the carriers networks altogether and just download from the ever-increasing amount of wi-fi access-points instead.
Another thing is that not everyone wants an all-in-one device, not everyone wants a mobile phone or wants to pay phone fees, iPods are a cheaper and cheaper commodity and the cost of ownership is low, it doesn’t cost more to own apart from buying new music, cell phone costs are kind of expensive for many people so I would hesitate to say that a standard iPod is going to be redundant in a years time.
One final point is that the iPod isn’t successful because of it’s wealth of features but perhaps rather the dearth of features – it’s simple to use – how many people say that about their mobile phones? All the additional features in the world haven’t helped companies like Creative or even the once-mighty Sony to make a significant dent in the iPod’s success, there’s a huge army of third-party accessory makers for the iPod, I really don’t think the iPod as it stands is becoming obsolete, probably just even cheaper and more prevalent!