Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tuesday's iTunes killer

Vodaphone is about to launch a mobile music store which is being touted as no sort of iTunes killer at all.

Oh, alright, it is:

Rob Lewis, chief executive of Omnifone, which developed MusicStation, believes the service will help operators exploit the full potential of their networks and the relationship they have with customers in a way that the iPhone does not.

"A device like iPhone, at the end of the day, ties a consumer to an Apple strategy forever. It does not utilise the 3G data network; it is not even 3G compatible. It does not allow over-the-air downloads; it only allows downloads from iTunes using a credit card, and it certainly does not allow unlimited downloads wherever you are," he said.

Analysts believe the iPhone will be a powerful, but niche, product, and the full potential of mobile music lies in making it easier to buy and play tracks on a mobile phone. This year alone, more than 1.13bn mobile phones will be sold worldwide, according to estimates from the industry expert Gartner, while 110m iPods have been sold since 2001.

This, of course, does rely on consumers being a bit... well, slow. Because otherwise, they might weight the "ease" of downloading on their handset against not actually owning the track - Vodaphone have gone with a rental model; not having the track on anything other than your phone; limited phone storage meaning that if you like more than a few hundred songs, you'll be constantly deleting, reloading, deleting, reloading and, of course, seeing through the pricing trick:

Which sounds okay - although at £104 a year, you'd only start to see an advantage if you'd have bought more than 131 tracks on iTunes - but, of course, you also have to pay Vodaphone for the datatransfer as you suck these songs down. And at least when you sync your iPhone with iTunes, you can copy across anything you've ripped from CDs you already own.

Mobile music stores are built on the hope that customers are either very, very stupid, or very, very rich.