The sound of music

John has a post quoting some interesting stats about Apple’s iPod & other sales. More than 100M iPods sold, and going up fast!

Meanwhile, over on All About Symbian, Ewan Spence points out that 80M smartphones, capable of music and video, were sold in the last 12 months alone, half of them by Nokia. It may well be the case, I guess, that Nokia has sold more music-playing devices than Apple.

So the interesting question is why people don’t use their phones for that purpose? Because the sound quality isn’t so good? I doubt that’s always the case. Because they don’t come with stereo headphones? Because the Swiss Army knife approach to gadgets doesn’t really work? Because they’re not tied into iTunes and convenient syncing?

I’ve had several phones capable of playing MP3s but never even tried it. That is perhaps Apple’s greatest achievement.

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Having just returned from a friends where I’ve spent the best part of 6 hours trying to get her Nokia to sync with a bluetooth dongle in her PC I can fully understand why so few people go down that route! (Main problem was that Nokia desktop only works with a few older bluetooth stacks – eventually gave her my bluetooth dongle to get it working) also the conversion and download speed is so snail like.

Sony(Ericsson) are trying hard with their Walkman range of mobile phones. The lack of a standard 3.5mm jack for headphones on 99.9% of mobile phones is a pain. My Palm Zire31 is much better in this regard, and it also uses standard SD memory cards so I can treat them like tapes. The downside is the lack of dedicated media buttons (especially pause!). I believe the Treo range fixes that problem, and is also a phone but very few UK networks offer it discounted with a subscription.

Hopefully Apple’s phone will be the incentive to encourage everyone else to get their act together with converged devices. Of course having a large (touch) screen, plenty of storage, WiFi, GSM/3G, Bluetooth, sound and video playback, web browser (and other apps), and a long battery life make for a large and heavy product, in 2007!

I’m often surprised at the gym and on train journeys how many people I have noticed using devices-other-than-iPods for listening to music. I’ve seen several phones and PDAs of late, and I often wonder what inspires a person to use a media player that isn’t an iPod.

Two reasons: poor battery life of phones compared to iPod, reliability issues in both the software and hardware. Do I want to use the music / podcast player functionality when my phone breaks (N80 over a year was in service for 3 weeks) or runs out of juice?

The last sentence should have read: “Do I want to lose …” as opposed to “Do I want to use” – sorry

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