We're in the middle of a mobile music revolution. The Apple iPod has firmly established itself as the portable music player of choice among today's consumers, but it seems that the best competitor to the iPod is not the Microsoft Zune or any other MP3 player. Instead, the device that is perhaps in the best position to usurp the iPod is the MP3 cell phone.
iPod vs. Cell Phone: A Mobile Music Revolution
While other manufacturers have attempted to get our interest with their mobile music players and portable media players, Apple has achieved the greatest success with the iPod. People love the intuitive user interface and the click wheel is particularly attractive. Many owners also appreciate the synchronization with their iTunes account.
The cell phone used to be a piece of technology restricted to business users and people with more money than they know what to do with. The same could be said about MP3 players a few years ago. However, both have become incredibly affordable even for people on the tightest of budgets. Everyone has a cell phone these days.
Soon, it may be possible to abandon the iPod altogether.
Hello to Digital Media
Part of the reason why the iPod has become so popular is that it is capable of storing thousands of songs in such a tiny package. Contrast this to the 10-20 tracks that are found on a single CD.
This illustrates the power of digital media. Nothing physical needs to be exchanged in order for the consumer to enjoy new songs or new movies. All they have to do is hop on their computer and purchase this content directly, which can then be transferred to their iPod music player. This makes mobile music incredibly easy.
In the history of cell phones, the expansion of functionality has been equally impressive. We've seen the emergence of camera phones, for example, but it's the media player functionality that might have Apple a little more worried.
The Appeal of Convergence Devices
More than ever, people are looking for as much functionality in a single device as possible. Years ago, people had a separate camera for taking pictures, a music player for tunes, a cell phone for communication, a laptop for e-mails, and so on. As smartphones become more prevalent, the appeal of convergence devices can only rise.
Many people do not want to carry around multiple devices, especially if all that functionality can be found in a single device. This is where we may find a slow transition away from standalone iPods and toward some of the most popular MP3 cell phones, like the Walkman series of Sony Ericsson cell phones.
As it stands, MP3 cell phones are not quite as popular as iPods just yet and this is due to two primary concerns: user interface and storage capacity. The user interface on an iPod is more specialized, making it easier to access the music. By contrast, accessing the music player on a music phone can be more complex. Secondly, larger iPods are able to store up to 80GB of multimedia; no cell phone comes close to that.
Culminating in the iPhone
So, where will we finally find the intersection between the iPod and the music phone? Look no further than the Apple iPhone. According to Steve Jobs himself, the iPhone is meant to provide the perfect marriage behind the iPod and the cell phone, effectively granting you access to the best of both worlds. The largest iPhone currently has up to 16GB of memory and it adds on all sorts of functions beyond music playing, voice calls, text messages, and more.
As we look forward to the second generation iPhone, we may be moving even closer to abandoning the iPod altogether and adopting a device that serves all the purposes of a portable media player and a communication device. It has never been a better time to go mobile with your music.