Will your next music device be your cellphone?

If you replace your phone in the next year, then the answer is yes. Communities Dominate Brands believes 2006 will be the year the iPod dies. Not necessarily because something technologically superior, but because cell phones are replaced so often and new models will have music playback built in. So a lot of people will acquire a mobile music device without really thinking about it.

You don’t even start off by considering the mobile phone as a music
player. But portable music players do not sell 750 million units every
year. Mobile phones do. Portable music players are not replaced every
two years on average. Mobile phones are. That means that whatever is
the standard features of a mobile phone will be sold to us whether we
really prefer that device or not. Because of the overall size of the
market for mobile phones, and the speed by which they are replaced,
this means that the music player will become a common feature next year.

There headline is certainly sensationalistic, and I’ll try to remember to come back 12 months from now to see if the iPod is truly dead, but I doubt it. Here’s why, and this is basically a list of things my mobile phone would have to do to replace my iPod:

  • Connect to my Mac/Linux/Windows machine and let me play songs off of it.
  • Connect to my PC and let me move files (mp3s/podcasts in particular) on and off without restrictions.
  • Lots of storage (at least 6GB).
  • Let me buy music on my laptop, have it sync automatically to the device.
  • Let me hook it up to a receiver via a stereo cable, or have an short-range FM broadcaster, so that I can listen to my music in my living room or car. All without draining the batteries in a few minutes.

We will see cell phone providers try to lock down the phone you use as much as possible. So that you can only buy music from them and listen to them on your phone. Whichever carrier doesn’t do that, might have a chance of selling more units than Apple sells ipod. But even then, I doubt people will think of their phones as their primary music device.