Dec 09

Caution: juggernaut ahead

You don't want to be in front of this thing

You don't want to get in the way of this one

Help. I’ve lost track of what’s converging where. Where’s all this cool stuff going again? My computer? My game machine? My cable box? My smartphone? My imaginary iTablet?

As it turns out, where it’s going isn’t nearly as important as where it’s coming from. Remember, he who controls the spice controls the universe.

The iTunes Store is by far the most prolific provider of the digital goodies we humans love to consume: music, movies, radio, podcasts, apps and more. And it’s about to get bigger:

Cloud music. No more syncing? Apple just bought Lala.com. So soon you should be able to keep your music on the web and play it anywhere, from any device. (Since they physically keep the music, Lala only charges a dime per song. We’ll see how Apple handles that.)

Magazines reborn. The coming iTablet will fuel a rebirth of magazines that are as sexy as anything in this digital world, igniting a new media-rich boom in “print.” It’ll be exciting, and our forests will thank us.

Reading redefined. It’s that darn iTablet again. Thousands of books at your fingertips, but more beautifully presented than anyone imagines. (Good idea, Kindle. We’ll take it from here.)

Revenge of broadcast. Remember TV? It’s back. Watch your favorite shows in your living room, coffee shop or pleasure craft. On your own schedule, on the device of your choosing. Yes, the iTunes Store will now start making the cable companies panic.

App Store for big-boy apps. Think beyond iPhone. Soon you’ll buy all your apps this way. Not just Mac apps, PC apps too. Physical discs are so 20th century.

While its competitors are busily building music stores and app stores, Apple has a vision that is far grander — with an infrastructure that’s already in place. How far can the iTunes Store go? I’d say the sky’s the limit. But that’s just where it’s starting…

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  • Liebman

    Very nice predictions, Ken. I agree with the move of our content to the cloud, but it does bring up a slight issue with naming (one of your pet peeves). It’s so much more than music now, and it’s only going to diversify more in the future. As smart as the folks are at Infinity Loop, I don’t they they had any idea what the iTunes store was to become. Had they known, it would have a name with a larger footprint. Perhaps The Observatory should hold a contest to rename the iTunes Store?

  • ChuckO

    How long, oh Lord, how long? and can someone please tell the movie companies to get their heads out of their arses and start selling ALL THEIR MOVIES on iTunes and for a reasonable price?

  • here’s a little factoid, concerning corporations on the web:

    apparently, there are 1,733,993,741 web users, globally (as of a Sept 2009 study) with america following asia and europe as the the third largest user base…

    then there’s this:

    go down to the perception and usage section… interesting numbers about how many people use the web to ‘appropriate’ music and films… according to one study, 20% of EU web users downloaded files from peer-to-peer networks, while only 10% bought from places like iTunes… the numbers are much higher for asia and even higher for america, where fast connections are really starting to take off. not as well as the 100mbps in japan, but getting better…

    there’s a list of references at the bottom, and one of them suggested that something like 54% of all internet traffic is used for file sharing… not the ‘here’s pictures form disneyland” kind of file sharing… the ‘love that dare not speak it’s name’ type of file sharing: peer-to-peer.

    i think Apple, et al, have a few other things to worry about as the cloud gets bigger and gets seeded with all sorts of things and methods of sharing those things… remember all the fuss that happened when X-Men III: Wolverine was released on torrent sites before the movie even opened?

    Apple also has to worry about places like Pandora and others… 10¢ a song? the hell with that, i pay $36 a year for streaming music to any compatible device (including my iPhone) and i create libraries of different types of music and i can share and adopt others libraries… which oddly enough has led me to buy music from artists i’ve never heard of but was quite impressed with…

  • Shehan

    How sure are you about all those facts? I agree that iTunes will dominate the digital media space for a long time to come, but yet, most of those predictions are, well.. just rumors that you seemed to have gotten excited over..

  • ken segall

    Well, nothing’s for sure in this life. But we do know that Apple just spent real money for Lala, that they’re talking to all the big media companies, that the infrastructure exists to do all of this stuff, and we’re pretty sure Apple is talking to the TV networks too. So it doesn’t take too big a leap to see where this is headed. But the standard disclaimer does apply: this is my personal opinion, and I do get easily excited…

  • Shehan