ThoughtPiece: Is the music phone the next camera phone?

Comments

I invite you all to check-out the near all-out-brawl that’s been going on in the comments of last week’s ThoughtPiece. Here’s hoping that this week’s sparks as much controversy. Our resident rantist Thought weighs in strong this week, wondering whether or not the music phone is the next camera phone. Let him know what you think, and thanks again, Thought, for a great contribution.

Is the Music Phone the Next Camera Phone?

A while back I commented on how the camera phone had become the de facto standard in the world of mobile phones. RIM knew that the only way to effectively compete in the consumer market was to release a camera phone device.

This week let’s turn our attention to the idea of music phones, and see if this is poised to be the next big thing. I know many of our thoughtful readers will have noticed that far more phones are being released now that have built-in music playing capabilities (including the BlackBerry Pearl). Moreover, this feature is being used more than ever before as a selling point in advertising.

I personally believe that in time virtually all cell phones will have some sort of built-in music player, much like almost all have built-in cameras. However, there are unique challenges in making the music phone market take off, and so I do not believe that this will be the immediate slam dunk that camera phones were.

For one, there is the problem of getting the music content onto the phone. So far no one has really figured out a way that makes it easy for users to sync their phone with their music library. Of course, there is also the direct-to-phone wireless download method, but most consumers so far have balked at the price-per-song offered by carrier music services. Consumers need a way to place music on their phones that is perceived as both easy and affordable; that has yet to happen. Troy Ruhanen, executive vice president of advertising firm BBDO North America phrased it well when he noted that “anything in this space has to be dead easy. I mean, look at the iPod. ”

  • GAThrawn

    Don’t know how things are over there on the American continent, but as far as I can tell this is already true in Europe. I did a quick straw poll around the office, and (ignoring people that only use a Blackberry) everyone under 45 had a mobile phone capable of playing MP3s and had a minimum of 20 songs on their phone.

    The verdict is actually listening to the tunes is far more of a problem than getting tunes onto the phone. Most people either have a USB cable and drag/drop tunes straight onto the phone from Explorer, do the same thing over bluetooth, or fill up memeory cards with the music and plug them in.

    However privately listening to the phone (without annoying everyone else on the tube/train/bus) is more of a problem, you need the manufacturer’s proprietary-plugged earpiece, or bluetooth headset (with annoyingly poor battery life), or your stuck. There are basically no phones in common use with standardised headphone sockets.

  • GAThrawn

    Don’t know how things are over there on the American continent, but as far as I can tell this is already true in Europe. I did a quick straw poll around the office, and (ignoring people that only use a Blackberry) everyone under 45 had a mobile phone capable of playing MP3s and had a minimum of 20 songs on their phone.

    The verdict is actually listening to the tunes is far more of a problem than getting tunes onto the phone. Most people either have a USB cable and drag/drop tunes straight onto the phone from Explorer, do the same thing over bluetooth, or fill up memeory cards with the music and plug them in.

    However privately listening to the phone (without annoying everyone else on the tube/train/bus) is more of a problem, you need the manufacturer’s proprietary-plugged earpiece, or bluetooth headset (with annoyingly poor battery life), or your stuck. There are basically no phones in common use with standardised headphone sockets.

  • GAThrawn

    Don’t know how things are over there on the American continent, but as far as I can tell this is already true in Europe. I did a quick straw poll around the office, and (ignoring people that only use a Blackberry) everyone under 45 had a mobile phone capable of playing MP3s and had a minimum of 20 songs on their phone.

    The verdict is actually listening to the tunes is far more of a problem than getting tunes onto the phone. Most people either have a USB cable and drag/drop tunes straight onto the phone from Explorer, do the same thing over bluetooth, or fill up memeory cards with the music and plug them in.

    However privately listening to the phone (without annoying everyone else on the tube/train/bus) is more of a problem, you need the manufacturer’s proprietary-plugged earpiece, or bluetooth headset (with annoyingly poor battery life), or your stuck. There are basically no phones in common use with standardised headphone sockets.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Here is my question about both music phones and camera phones. Are people actually using these features?

    I see an awful lot of people, around L.A. at least, who have phones (like the RAZR or SLVR) who still carry a digital camera, and maybe even an iPod. I think that with both music and cameras on phones the numbers are very deceptive, because I’m not sure that many people actually take advantage of the feature.

    Yeah, when you are deciding which phone to get you might say “cool, it has a camera and can play music” but that doesn’t automatically equate to using it. I know I carried around a camera phone for about a year and a half, and in that entire time took maybe two pictures with it.

    I kind of get the feeling that it is a cheap feature they stick on the phone so that they won’t lose the sale to a competitor with a better spec sheet, but that people don’t really use the phone for anything but a phone.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Here is my question about both music phones and camera phones. Are people actually using these features?

    I see an awful lot of people, around L.A. at least, who have phones (like the RAZR or SLVR) who still carry a digital camera, and maybe even an iPod. I think that with both music and cameras on phones the numbers are very deceptive, because I’m not sure that many people actually take advantage of the feature.

    Yeah, when you are deciding which phone to get you might say “cool, it has a camera and can play music” but that doesn’t automatically equate to using it. I know I carried around a camera phone for about a year and a half, and in that entire time took maybe two pictures with it.

    I kind of get the feeling that it is a cheap feature they stick on the phone so that they won’t lose the sale to a competitor with a better spec sheet, but that people don’t really use the phone for anything but a phone.

  • Thought

    GAThrawn: great observation…no doubt that you in Europe lead the US and Canada in terms of adoption of the latest and greatest technology on cell phones. It’s my understanding that in Japan and S Korea they are even farther ahead.

    You are also correct in that listening to music is a more immersive experience than just snapping a picture. That makes its use a little more complicated. Of course, ease of interface use is also a key, as you allude to. So great points, all of them.

  • Thought

    GAThrawn: great observation…no doubt that you in Europe lead the US and Canada in terms of adoption of the latest and greatest technology on cell phones. It’s my understanding that in Japan and S Korea they are even farther ahead.

    You are also correct in that listening to music is a more immersive experience than just snapping a picture. That makes its use a little more complicated. Of course, ease of interface use is also a key, as you allude to. So great points, all of them.

  • Thought

    Lloyd: Great insight and a key question…perhaps THE key question.

    My feeling is this: esp for those in the US/Canada, where musicphone adoption lags, any music feature on a lot of phones goes unused all or most of the time. If the crucial issues, some of which are discussed above, get worked out, then this will probably change. As manufacturers throw music playing capabilities on more and more phones, time will tell if the majority of people will actually use these features.

    As for the cameraphone: I hear you about not using the camera on a phone. With me it varies…sometimes I use it rather frequently, other times I go a while without snapping a pic. I will say that when I was on a recent vacation, even with having a very nice Sony digital camera with me, there were times when I used a cameraphone simply because I could instantly send the image to someone else. However, I can tell you that far more pictures are taken with camera phones than with stand-alone cameras. The camera phone feature has been an unqualified success. In fact, I discussed this phenomena in an earlier piece that is linked to in the first sentence of this article.

    Thanks again, Lloyd…

  • Thought

    Lloyd: Great insight and a key question…perhaps THE key question.

    My feeling is this: esp for those in the US/Canada, where musicphone adoption lags, any music feature on a lot of phones goes unused all or most of the time. If the crucial issues, some of which are discussed above, get worked out, then this will probably change. As manufacturers throw music playing capabilities on more and more phones, time will tell if the majority of people will actually use these features.

    As for the cameraphone: I hear you about not using the camera on a phone. With me it varies…sometimes I use it rather frequently, other times I go a while without snapping a pic. I will say that when I was on a recent vacation, even with having a very nice Sony digital camera with me, there were times when I used a cameraphone simply because I could instantly send the image to someone else. However, I can tell you that far more pictures are taken with camera phones than with stand-alone cameras. The camera phone feature has been an unqualified success. In fact, I discussed this phenomena in an earlier piece that is linked to in the first sentence of this article.

    Thanks again, Lloyd…