Mobile Music

I was at Mobiquitous 2007 in Philadelphia last week.
Some of the papers were focused on music and its applicability to mobile devices:
Musicology: Bringing Personal Music into Shared Spaces,
Content Source Selection in Bluetooth Networks (my paper).
This is an interesting area of development and, I believe, important for the realisation of large scale market penetration of networked mobile devices.
I’m sure most of you are aware of online digital media stores, such as the iTunes Store and Napster.
Most of these stores employ Digital Rights Management (DRM) to limit the sharing and playback of the purchased tracks, though not all sites are so restrictive (Emusic).
Apparently, Apple barely makes money from their store, and use it as a driver for their iPod device range. The iPhone automatically synchronises with your computer’s media collection whenever it is connected. Ensuring you are always walking around with your most up to date data.
Other mobile device manufacturers are now trying to make use of these loyalty inducing services, Nokia making MOSH and possibly its own store. Sony Ericsson has the rather silly named m-buzz and its Playnow service. Even companies that don’t manufacture devices are focusing on the mobile music shop market, such as RoK.

This combination of digital media stores and mobile devices shows an awareness by companies about people’s usage of digital media on the go, and its attraction.
Not just to improve the user experience, but also to try and lock them in to their particular device/network provider. This is achieved not only through the inertia caused by familiarity of the particular shop, but also the format the music is supplied in. Including both the actual music encoding (WMV is Microsoft’s, RealAudio) or the DRM container (FairPlay/PlaysForSure/Helix DRM). Leading to consumers only being able to use some devices with their music collection, and equally only purchase material from shops that their device supports.

The adoption of digital music sales as an added part of the mobile device ecosystem demonstrates people are willing to pay for digital media, especially on their mobile devices.
Interestingly, the low margins on this service has caused it to often be a value added feature rather than a profitable venture in its own right.
The renegotiation of terms by Universal may lower the distribution margins even more.
The posibility of direct sales of music tracks by artists, without the labels acting as middlemen, may increase the profits for content produers and distributers, making it a viable option in future. The unpopularity of DRM, is causing new developments a such as watermarking and charging a premium for the lack of it, will hopefully stimulate the market further.

One Response to “Mobile Music”

  1. [...] same approach may be used for mobile music. A bar may decide to play songs depending on the preferences of its customers (and preferences [...]