The Sock Diary

Musings of a part-time Sweaty Sock.

Monday, March 28, 2005

MP3 players are the new Walkman

BBC NEWS | Technology | Millions buy MP3 players in US

Man, no doubt about it, MP3 players are the new Walkman. It's coming. I remember the thing to have when I was a kid was a mono tape recorder. For about 25 quid - I think that was a birthday, a christmas, and a lot of weeks pocket money then, took me about 7 months to save up enough for it - bought you a slab of metal and plastic about the size of two house bricks and almost as heavy. They had carry handles. No-one had heard of Walkmans.To get music we taped it off the telly by holding the recorder next to the telly speaker when what we came on, or off the radio in a similar way. You just paryed everyone in the room stayed quiet and no-one walked in. Once you'd got a tape together you let your mates copy it by plugging it the headphone jack to their recorders mic in. Then walkmans happened, and beat boxes, so it got a bit easier to get music, and to carry it around and listen to it. Then Walkmans got smaller and got auto-reverse. That was quality. Well chuffed with auto-reverse. Then what, loads of messing around with CD walkmans, minidiscs, etc. Bang, two years ago MP3 players happen. I reckon there's probably about three people in the western world who don't know what an MP3 player is, and for once, one of them isn't my Mum. They're so damn cheap really (20 quid for 256Mb (that's like, 4 albums or something, beats a 60 minute tape) MP3 player) that the price is no barrier to entry. Having a PC is the barrier to entry, and that's fast dissolving.

As I've said before, as memory gets cheaper, the problem will be filling that empty void of disk space that defines your music taste. I think podcasting is the thing to help fill it. As more music goes Creative Commons, and older people (the first adopters as they're the ones with the dough to buy massive MP3 players like iPods and Zen jukeboxes) hand down their 1st and 2nd gen MP3s to their kids or younger brothers and sisters (one day Sock'sBros, not yet;) that market is growing at an exponential rate.

The older generation want information, the kids want music and maybe entertaining radio replacements. Time-shifting is in. Sod Videocasting, it's a pain in the butt to walk or run while trying to watch telly, so it's never going to appeal as a portable medium to anyone more than train commuters or people who get driven places. It'll work for all the places you have DVD players now. At home, on the train, in the car back seats. That's it.

Where are walkmans and radios now? Everywhere. Audio is truly portable, listenable everywhere and anywhere. This is what MP3 players are replacing, and this is where podcasts fit in.

Easily and cheaply distributable audio. You don't need a licence, you don't need anyone to tell you to do it, or not do it, and you can decide who and what you listen to, and when. The audio craze born with portable radios just came of age. It's binning the Corsa 1.4 with stick on spoilers and looking at a nice 3 series BMW with an infinately variable engine. Where do you want be taken today?

Pressing publish before a read through. Hope this isn't un-intelligible. Hope it isn't crap either.


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