The Register says “that this is because there will be several important factors driving revenue to such an extent that by 2008, the mobile consumer applications market will be worth just under $8bn in Western Europe.”
That’s a pretty big market and they believe that will be made up of ring tones, gaming, video, and music. That’s either an awful lot of ring tones or one of those applications has got to hit it big time. Ring tones are currently a success with one provider announcing a profit yesterday. I think gaming will be the next thing, as people have already accepted games onto the phones and play them in their spare time. Video and music are going to struggle; to either play them via streaming, or download them will require faster network speeds.
Even if you could get the right quality to either watch a film, or listen to a streaming album then it’d cost you a fortune. For example an album shrunk to the lowest MP3 compression rate takes up about 20mb. Lets say you listened to a new album each week, you’d be downloading 80-100mb per month. Current GPRS bundles are around 8ukp for 8mb, so it’d cost you 16ukp + to download an album at it’s lowest quality. I don’t think it would fly.
Now if operators teamed up with record labels and cut a deal where by there was a flat charge and the income from that was split between the record company and the provider you may be looking at an interesting situation. But the record industry aren’t exactly biting off ISP’s hands right now, sorry they are but for the wrong reasons.
Moving from network provision to the devices themselves, I still think the killer device will be a bluetooth enabled phone, or smart phone if you like, that stores your music either on the internal memory or a card (SD, memory stick whatever). You then have all your music systems bluetooth enabled to interact with your phone (ie one place!). First let’s take your car, you simply connect your phone to your car and MP3’s start streaming through your speakers, a call comes in, music is muted and you take the call. The same at home, you place your phone down by your hi fi and it starts streaming your music over the speakers, phone rings, so does the speakers, you hear it from around the house…cool.
Downloading and ripping music will happen for a long time yet on a PC or media centre and squirting it to which ever device via firewire will always be quicker than downloading via a network (no congestion with routers throttling back etc). How the device then interacts with other devices is the interesting part.