Gerd Leonhard: The Browser is the new iPod, and the Mobile Application is the new CD

Mobile applications for smart-phones will take the place of sound-carriers.


Gerd Leonahrd

Access to music – i.e. a simple click-to-play, anywhere, anytime, anything – is replacing ownership. This trend will quickly accelerate due to the massive global build-up in cheap wireless broadband connectivity, leading us swiftly to the point where listening to a song will be exactly the same as downloading it (at least in practical terms, from the users’ perspective). Some of us would argue that this is already the case, of course, but in terms of mass-scale user adoption I would say we are about 18 months away from the pivot point in the so-called developing countries.

The music industry needs to urgently get ready for this: sell access not (just) copies. Bundle. Package. Develop those new generatives. “When copies are free you need to sell things that can’t be copied” (Kevin Kelly, The Technium).

Another important trend to embrace is the move to mobile devices that will pretty much replace the computer as primary access point to the Internet i.e. to all digital content. Mobile applications for smart-phones will take the place of sound-carriers; music will be sold as/in/via/with software. Read how Pandora is doing this, in the U.S.

By Gerd Leonhard.

The Browser is the new iPod: access replaces ownership
The future of digital content: open,mobile, connected, collaborative...

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2 comment on this article

  1. On June 30, 2009 at 3:56 am Gaurav Narula said:

    All this sounds very positive and a very workable solution for the download generation but what baffles me is the sustainable revenue system for the music industry to keep at such flexible terms. From the user’s perspective online/mobile streaming might be the next best thing that has/could happen to music but to the music industry? Well, we can’t ever emphasize on the answer much. Its been a downward spiral.
    That said, I am happy about the fact that at last there is something to shake iTunes’s world and give other illegal download services competition and that is ‘Spotify’. I am an avid user of Spotify, We7 and Last.fm. Even though they have introduced a subscription model in the other parts of Europe (ex U.K) and developing countries and even though (hypothetically) if we assume there will be enough subscribers to sign up for the paid service, the question that arises is, would there be enough revenue to make/sustain the ocean of music industry on advert funded or subscription paid services healthy and wealthy for long or are they just short term discourses?
    On one hand we have an example of Spiral Frog and on the other We7, Last.fm, Rhapsody, Spotify, and many others which so far seem to be doing decently well but if they remain successful or not is yet to be found out considering only 23.8% (2009) of the World’s population uses internet technology.

  2. On June 30, 2009 at 9:30 am Gerd Leonhard said:

    Dear Gaurav, thanks for the comment – of course, monetizing this trend is the big challenge. But I would caution against too much fretting about this; the model will develop once all is liquid, i.e. the rights are there, the devices are there, the advertisers are there, and the ISPs and telco operators are aboard. This is a new ECOsystem not a monopolistic system such as we’ve had in music until now, therefore not a single party can create a new model that will generate enough revenue (see Spotify) – it needs to be done in collaboration. Read Kevin Kelly on this: Better than Free http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2008/01/better_than_fre.php