Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Future of Music: Hello? Your Song Is Calling

I'm putting together a presentation on music, and over the next few days will be sharing some of the thinking and research.

As I've mentioned before, I own just one phone, a Blackberry 8800, which does many things: it handles several different email accounts, keeps my calendar and address book, enables me to surf the Web on the go, even has a GPS. I also have three iPods of varying sizes and storage capabilities, each with its own subset of music and designated function, and with soundtracks for everything: waking up, running, driving, dinner, going to bed, and various calibrations of mood.

Aside from downloading the occasional ringtone, I don't think of my phone as a music device, which may partially explain my relative, and puzzling, indifference to the iPhone. But I am distinctly in the minority.

According to Digital Music News, Apple has sold more than 150 million iPods. The iPhone/iTouch add another 2 million or so.

But, DMN goes on, broader sales of music-enabled phones topped 500 million in 2007, (according to research from MultiMedia Intelligence). That overpowers sales of standalone portable music players - iPod or otherwise - by roughly 300 million. And phones are the biggest technology going: MultiMedia Intelligence also says that shipments of multimedia feature-rich mobile phones worldwide will exceed 300 million units in 2008, outnumbering shipments of TV sets.

Like me, you probably already can't live without your pocket companion. Teenagers have to be forcibly separated from theirs. The average age of a new cellphone user is now 10, and IDC forecasts that the 9-and-under market will increase to nine million users in the United States by 2010. Many phones, such as the Firefly, are already being made for those five and younger.

These are worldwide phenomena. Music-enabled mobile devices shipped the most in 2007 in Asia (201 million), followed by Western Europe (159 million) and North America (117 million).

Soon, you won't be able to escape your soundtrack. Music can already remind you of too much. How long before "your song" starts chasing you?

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