With this years Future of Mobile conference coming up in a months time I have been looking at the key areas of change in the mobile ecosystem since last years event.
Last year the Future of Mobile discussed the question “Will content be King”. Since then the focus from both Operators and handset manufacturers seems to have been on improving the music capabilities of the phone itself and offering enhanced services to buy music. SonyEricsson have expanded their range of handsets with a shake to shuffle capability. Nokia are launching their Comes with Music service this week.
We have seen many mobile music services come and go over the last few years. This begs the question, what is the key differentiator between success and failure? Nokia have big pockets and are continuing with their Windows only DRM embedded music. T Mobile and Google have sensibly partnered with Amazon to deliver DRM free music from a vast catalogue to the G1 phone. Apple are holding a middle ground with iTunes content for the iPhone but do make it a deliberately obtuse process to move any content into other media players and devices.
The increase in the onboard memory of mobile handsets seen in the last year is typically eight fold, meaning that many users now see their phone as replacing their mp3 player. As with all aspects of mobile the user experience is the key to success. Will users really take to a service that can fill the phone up with music, but locks it in there so they can’t knock up a virtual mix tape and pass it on to a friend? I doubt it, since the launch of the cassette tape people have taken great pleasure from sharing music with each other.
New services such as Didiom in the USA really understand what users want from their music collection and the collection of devices they have in their lives. This interoperability is the key to a successful service. The insightful J P Rangaswami perfectly summed up why DRM is always destined to fail on his Confused of Calcutta blog this week. Companies that really get it are going from strength to strength like the UK’s Indy Mobile who build lasting relationships between the record labels and mobile consumers.
At Future of Web Apps in London last week I had the pleasure of discussing the mobile future with Stefan Fountain, founder of Soocial, who is one of the most astute mobile theorists there is. He says…
“The future of mobile is not about a device, it’s about the service, maybe not even that. It’s about what you want to do”.
This quote is taken directly from his FOWA presentation which is available to watch, embed, and share right here.
(Photo credit: Chuckumentary)