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Old 07-15-2007, 06:30 PM   #1
mobilemonte
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iPod vs. Mobile phone. Do carriers have a chance in the mobile entertainment battle?

It is the strangest thing. The iPod and podcasting have proven that users will gladly overcome complex routines in order to take their entertainment with them when they are on the go. Some of us transfer MP3 files from the PC and enjoy music. Others subscribe to podcasts. Both usages requires a user to actively connect a media device to a PC and transfer content – an action which I personally find technically challenging. Yet people do it. Over 100,000,000 iPods have been sold so far.

On the other hand, the cellular industry has repeatedly tried to get us to use data entertainment services on our phones. Internet became Mobile Internet. Television became Mobile TV. Despite the investment of billions of dollars in data networks, spectrum, devices and marketing campaigns, users have not adopted these services.

Can the mobile phone compete with the iPod as the user's device of choice? For example, can podcasting become a service enjoyed on mobile phones? Clearly, podcasting is very suitable for the mobile phone. First, it is an “on-the-go” experience. Second, audio content is not effected by the handset’s small screen. Third, mobile phones already support video and high-quality audio. Four, content can be delivery directly to the handset with superb user experience.

If podcasting on the mobile fails, the mobile industry will have difficulty explaining why. Indeed, one may argue that such a failure is final proof that the phone is simply not a media devices, and that convergence is just hype.

This series of articles analyzes the critical issues that must be addressed if mobile podcasting is to succeed and prove that the phone has worth as a media device. In this first article, we now address fundamental user issues:

First, is there a clear scenario where users will consume podcasts/content on the mobile phone? The answer is yes. If the service is user friendly, compelling and affordable, people will do what many already do on with iPod. Many of us have clearly definable windows of dead time where we are a captive audience, such as while commuting to and from work. Also, enjoying audio content can be done in parellel to other activities.

Second, will people use their phones for media consumption? The experts say yes. "So the split where the phone world and this Windows PC world have been two separate worlds - that's changing utterly," says Bill Gates. "You'll have the PC and then you'll have your mobile phone. And the mobile phone and that PC will be working together in a rich way."

All of us carry our phones with us everywhere. We like our phones. Phones are getting smarter, with better user experience. The iPod is great, if you have one. Most do not. An iPod also means carrying around two devices. I do not. Given a compelling user experience and fair and clear pricing, many will gladly listen to great audio content during dead-time.

Third, will people pay for a mobile podcast service? After all, most content (including podcasts) is free on the web, with the perception being that content (even if pirated) should remain free.

Whether people will pay for a mobile service depends of factors such as easy of use, content quality, and price. True, Podcasts are available free on-line. But I personally would pay a small premium to receive unique Brand content on my mobile phone rather than buy an iPod and have to bother with transferring podcasts from my computer every day. Sure.

Finally, as will be discussed in the following articles, there is one more critical factor on which the success of mobile podcasting depends. Mobile operator involvement. Issues of easy of use, compelling content and price are all under the operator's control. Major mobile operators are designing and will soon launch podcast applications with great client expereince. As to content, Vodafone, T-Mobile and Orange are closing deals with Brand new media – the recent announcements of Vodafone with YouTube and My Space to name a few. As to price, operators control the cost of data on their networks. Adopting clear flat monthly fees for mobile podcasting services is mandatory to attract the mass-market user.

Will operators commit to mobile podcasting? They must. The success of the iPod is a strategic threat to them for several reasons: (a) If iPod becomes the user's mobile media device of choice, the phone will remain only a voice-only device. (b) iPhone will allow Apple to work one operator against another, such as by entering into an exclusivity deal with Vodafone at the exclusion of others - see Apple and ATT in the US. (c) Once iPod goes WIFI, the operator is out of the loop altogether.

Monte Silver
World Podcast Forum
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Old 07-15-2007, 07:18 PM   #2
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Why should one pay for podcasts on their phone? All they need is a 3G network and rss software. I stream audio/podcasts to my phone all the time. Its easy. And free.
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Old 07-15-2007, 07:19 PM   #3
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One thing most people do not realize is that by using their cell phones for things other then as a phone, it eats away at the battery so you have less talk time. If your DAP runs out of battery, it's not taking away from your cell phone. If you needed your phone, you'd be out of luck as you just drained it listening to some music.
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Old 07-15-2007, 07:20 PM   #4
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Why should one pay for podcasts on their phone? All they need is a 3G network and rss software. I stream audio/podcasts to my phone all the time. Its easy. And free.
And drains the battery from the phone so you have less time to actually talk and if for some reason you needed your phone in an emergency, you might be out of luck if you drained it with your podcasts.
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Old 07-15-2007, 07:38 PM   #5
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And drains the battery from the phone so you have less time to actually talk and if for some reason you needed your phone in an emergency, you might be out of luck if you drained it with your podcasts.
Thats true, except I watch battery levels, and streaming radio/ podcasts is not that big of a battery hog. Besides I have an 1800mAH in my treo.
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Old 07-15-2007, 08:07 PM   #6
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But most people I bet don't watch battery levels. So once they go too low, goodbye phone.
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Old 07-15-2007, 08:25 PM   #7
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But most people I bet don't watch battery levels. So once they go too low, goodbye phone.
That is true
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Old 07-15-2007, 08:30 PM   #8
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I dont think Monte's post deserves a front page story as its really just an advertisement and if one looks at his previous posts, they all say about the same thing, drumming up attention for his website.
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Old 07-15-2007, 09:44 PM   #9
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I dont think Monte's post deserves a front page story as its really just an advertisement and if one looks at his previous posts, they all say about the same thing, drumming up attention for his website.
The issues raised are good ones that have not recently been discussed at MobileRead. Also, many of the front page posts point to other websites where the original articles are found.

While there are many people that now use their phones for email and IM, the "mobile entertainment" segment is still far behind original projections. So far the discussion has centered on battery life; yet, it is easier to carry an extra battery or two than it is to carry another device. (I have several batteries for my phone and don't even read ebooks on it anymore.)

I am of the old school that would rather hear my music from speakers than from earbuds or headphones (except on an airplane where I have no choice if I wish to listen to my music) so the concept of listening to anything other than the current phone call on my phone is out of the question for me.
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Old 07-16-2007, 12:26 AM   #10
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I haven't gotten attached to podcasts yet, so I cannot address that directly. As to other content on the phone, sure, I could listen to music or watch a TV show. But a phone's controls aren't well suited to calling up, watching/listening, and changing channels/volume/settings on the fly, as they are with MP3 players like iPods (and most others). I think that's the biggest problem with "convergence": The phone's controls are best suited for a phone... not for anything else. In fact, in most instances device convergence isn't ready for the hype yet.

When's the last time you tried to input a web address on a cellphone? On my Razr, it bites. So am I likely to try to use it for web surfing? Hells no. How far do I have to surf down my menus to call up music to listen to? Too far.

I also agree with the battery issue here... convergent devices are rarely known for their battery longetivity.

Now, when all cellphones become smartphones, with touchscreen controls that can change on-the-fly for each application, and better battery life, convergence will be much more likely. But again, cellphone carriers are dedicated to charging for cell use, which means extra cost for every podcast downloaded, or time spent surfing the web. As long as that is true, depend on most people to avoid convergence and download things at home for free.
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Old 07-16-2007, 05:50 AM   #11
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Personally I strongly dislike the attempted convergence between mobile phones and PDAs. I want a small phone, but a PDA with a decent-sized (eg 4" diagonal) screen. This current generation of devices are, for me at least, too big to make good phones and too small to make good PDAs.

It really annoys me that it's becoming increasingly difficult to buy a "pure" Pocket PC (my preferred PDA); they are all becoming "merged" with phones. I don't know what I'm going to do when my current preferred PDA - an HP iPaq 4700 with a full VGA res screen - dies. HP no longer make anything similar and they're the maker I like best.

I want a PDA to be a PDA, and a phone to be a phone. They can talk to each other via Bluetooth - that works very well. I don't want a single device which is neither a good phone nor a good PDA.
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Old 07-16-2007, 09:29 AM   #12
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Personally I strongly dislike the attempted convergence between mobile phones and PDAs. I want a small phone, but a PDA with a decent-sized (eg 4" diagonal) screen. This current generation of devices are, for me at least, too big to make good phones and too small to make good PDAs.
I, too, would rather have a good-sized PDA with a 320x240 screen. If that devic can be my phone (with a bluetooth headset, so I don't have to plaster that whole thing to my ear), fine. But I don't want to try to do all the things I use a PDA for on a tiny phone.
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Old 07-16-2007, 09:44 AM   #13
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It really annoys me that it's becoming increasingly difficult to buy a "pure" Pocket PC (my preferred PDA); they are all becoming "merged" with phones. I don't know what I'm going to do when my current preferred PDA - an HP iPaq 4700 with a full VGA res screen - dies. HP no longer make anything similar and they're the maker I like best.
I love my converged 700WX. And if the 800W comes out with a 320x320 display, I will switch to that. I will also sell you my VGA X50v when your iPaq dies cheaply. I only use it for podcasts anymore and maybe light surfing.
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Old 07-17-2007, 05:48 AM   #14
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If you live outside the US and a country that's "irrelevant" by US standards, the technology and digital content, can really be interesting. It's no surprise that iPods are being sold at record numbers even though there isn't any iTunes store yet available here. Okay, some say there's a fair amount of "magically obtained" tunes on these devices, but I digressed. I visit the local HMV, Borders, and some the local CD shops almost weekly, buy a couple of CD's, rip and load to my Palm TX SD card. I wouldn't be surprise this is how most other people here get their music fix on their iPods, Zen, fake iPods (hey, it's Asia after all, home of the knock-off-copy-cat industries).

You are correct to say that the state of the hand phone technology today, is indistinguishable from a dedicated PMP (iPods, Zen, etc.). Some of the higher end product may also include video playing capabilities. So you can always carry a good collections of tunes, video and my favorite, podcasts on any trip. A point about podcast. I like to think of them of as the "editorial" section of current affairs. Three sources that I follow are: NY Times World View, Pri's The World Technology, and Slate Political Gabfest. If you are into language, listen to one episode of Grammar Girl. I'll guarantee that you will subscribe to this wit fully lesson.

Anyway, the argument that the brick and mortar CD shops are dying still has not been proven correct. Okay, there was one, "Tower Records" which closed shop about a year ago, but that one is a worldwide company problem. The point is that it is still a viable business, I mean, HMV for example, still has a vast collection of musics, CD, DVD and recently, they're selling HD/Bluray video titles. When iTunes eventually opens their virtual shop here, I'm not at all convince it will take a big slice of the music/video business here.

But to the central question on whether digital content will be piped by the carriers and hence, they'll control both the content and distribution channel, I don't think so. This notion of on-demand, i.e., I want to listen to this music now, or I want to view this news video clip now, is not going to happen with over the air technology any time soon. Look how long it took Apple to "load up" their music store. I can't imagine any telco to have a complete library of music like HMV so people can just shout in their phone: "Bob James," "Take me to the Mardy Grass" and instantly, the jazzy tune streams to my phone. Nice, but a very unlikely scenario.
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Old 07-22-2007, 03:37 PM   #15
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It's the operators, not the device

Telephone companies look at every service as a way to make money, which wouldn't be so bad except that it encourages them to overprice their services. I believe that people don't listen to podcasts on their phones because they don't want to pay outrageous connection charges.

Ultimately, I think convergence is the way the world will go. If phones can beat out PDAs, which require a fair amount of intelligence, surely they can beat out MP3 players which only require memory and a bit of GUI. But telephone operators have done everything they can to slow that day--by making sure they don't lose a nickel of revenue now. Still, who wants to carry multiple devices around with them all the time?

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