I had a bit of frustrated moment this evening as we tried to plan tomorrow’s travels into Macquarie Centre by car… because the campsite manager preferred us to use our cars rather than pay for a bus. In the end, it got so incredibly difficult to organise the logistics of it, and at 11pm, I threw my hands up in the air and said, “we’ll sort it tomorrow!” and came here to my room to sit and breathe… :)
Anyway, it’s a long story that I needn’t bore you with. Instead, I think it would be better for me to bore you with a good handful of paragraphs on music and mobile phones – my two loves, really.
So… I just came across this article from smh – its headline was Musical mobiles take aim at iPod. Now, almost any article in passing that mentions mobile phones in the title is guaranteed to draw me to read it. However, mobiles replacing MP3 players (the iPod will be my example because it’s what I use – but feel free to subsitute for your MP3 player of choice) has always been something I’m so-so about. Certainly at the moment, I’m very sure that mobile phones are not even close to the standard that most iPodphiles would accept as a replacement for their beloved device.
My first qualm is that, to my knowledge, no mobile phone currently available in Australia has a 3.5mm headphone jack as a standard feature of the phone. I would love to be corrected though. Some manufactures (Nokia, as an example) ship adapters for their phones to plug headphones in. But that means you have to make sure you have that with you all the time – not really handy, personal, or easy. And the second major point is much more subjective… but the “media player” software in the majority of handsets is just ugly, hard to use, and slow.
A third and fourth point that just crossed my mind too: thirdly, most of the online music purchasing in this country, nay, worldwide, goes on via iTunes Music Store. Currently, I believe that only one handset can play iTMS music, and that handset is the iPhone. Yes, a lot of iTMS music is now DRM free, but not all of it. And again, as a user, a good chunk of my music is bought from iTMS and I don’t want to leave that behind at my desk and not be able to load it up onto my phone.
Fourth point is the pretty shocking amount of memory that mobile phones come with – most are 1 or 2GB. Nokia pushed the boundaries with an 8GB phone. Cool… for a top-of-the-range, $1000+ phone, that’s on par with the $300 and bottom-of-the-range iPod, and only 156GB short of the top-of-the-range, $800 iPod. Hmmm… something’s a miss there if they want to try and get me to ditch my iPod.
So at this point, and mainly because of the above three points, no mobile phone – even Sony Ericsson’s much talked about and hyped Walkman series of phones – have even remotely enticed me to think about getting rid of my iPod. And I’m all for convergence – I work for a telecommunications company!
At this point I think it’s important to note that I’m only taking into account mobile phones that are currently available in Australia. There are actually a lot of fantastic handsets out there that beat my points above and would potentially change my mind. But Australia is just a little bit smaller than America, and so we get these wonderfully feature-packed handsets a lot later than the rest of the world – if ever. And the bottom line is that, yes, they may be available to purchase from a tech store, or from eBay, but the fact is that the majority of mobile phone handset purchasers do not pay $800 upfront for their phone – they pay $0 for their phone and are quite happy to sit on a 24mth contract with their provider of choice. So that also means that the phones need to not only be available in Australia, but also available on subsidised phone plans. And that range of handsets is what I am taking into account.
After saying all that, there are some exciting things that come out of the smh article that started me writing and thinking about all this:
- Motorola are again trying to break into that music phone market with something that looks pretty cool – it’s the pictured one. I do like the “Song ID” feature he points out on the phone… but sorry Ian, Sony Ericsson have already been doing that for some time, and it’s actually on my current phone. The scrolly-wheel type feature looks sweet, and there’s a possibility that this Moto handset could sync with iTunes, as its last music-type handset did.
- Nokia are where the excitement lies though, with their music store that you buy a yearly subscription to, and then can get as much music as you like. However, I can’t help being a little worried about how many record companies will actually be available on such a service in Australia – look how long it took iTunes to get up and running, and then we’re still paying by the track.
Bottom line is that things look great – but if you live in America. Sorry, I can’t help but be just a little cynical in summary about this article. Yes, these are services and phones that are talked about being released in Australia this year – but the questions in my mind remain:
- Will there be a 3.5mm headphone jack on the device?
- How much memory will come built into the phone?
- What is the extent of music that will be available in Nokia’s music store?
- Will they play iTunes’ music? (silly question, but it’s an important point for me).
Now that I have used almost all of my laptop battery writing that, and I’m now feeling quite tired and relaxed from this evening’s frustration… I think i shall go to sleep :)