Howthe iPhone will al­ter the world of mu­sic

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - News -

Most of the re­ac­tion to date about next week’s Ir­ish launch of the much vaunted iPhone has fo­cused on the hand­set price and the hefty tar­iffs that 02 plans to charge for it.

Many con­sumers have drawn un­favourable com­par­isons be­tween O2’s pric­ing plans in the Repub­lic and those for the same hand­set from the same mo­bile net­work op­er­a­tor in North­ern Ire­land. In­deed, many con­sumers have, with the aid of a weak dol­lar, pur­chased iPhones from the US to use here.

But, as with so many Ir­ish con­sumer prod­uct launches in re­cent times, there is cer­tain to be a huge de­mand for th­ese phones, re­gard­less of the price quib­bles.

While most iPhone pur­chasers will be evan­gel­i­cal about the hand­set’s user-friendly set-up when it comes to calls, texts and the in­ter­net, it’s also an­other im­por­tant tool in Ap­ple’s

con­tin­ued ad­vances into the mu­sic re­tail sec­tor.

Last month, Ap­ple’s iTunes be­came the sec­ond largest mu­sic re­tailer in the US af­ter Wal-Mart, and in­dus­try an­a­lysts pre­dict iTunes will displace the colos­sal su­per­mar­ket chain at the top in the next cou­ple of months.

All of this has been achieved with­out sell­ing a sin­gle CD, fur­ther proof of the on­go­ing main­stream slump in de­mand for the phys­i­cal prod­uct. This fall is likely to be ac­cel­er­ated as Wal-Mart and its big-box, bricks-and-mor­tar peers de­vote less and less shelf­s­pace to the for­mat.

The fact that it is a tech­nol­ogy rather than a mu­sic com­pany re­spon­si­ble for this seis­mic shift in con­sump­tion habits will not be lost on the mu­sic sec­tor. They haven’t just lost the bat­tle – they’ve lost the war. All they can do now is sit and watch as Ap­ple and other tech and tele­com com­pa­nies set the pace.

Ap­ple aims to sell 10 mil­lion iPhones in 2008, in ad­di­tion to the 140 mil­lion iPods al­ready sold since the mar­ket-lead­ing dig­i­tal mu­sic player was launched in 2001.

For the first time and much to their cha­grin, mu­sic in­dus­try play­ers are not the ones prof­it­ing from a for­mat change.

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