Buy a car (with a book), and other funny thoughts
This weeks edition of The Economist runs an insightful piece about the music industry’s experience of change over the past decade. I hadn’t thought of it either, but Apple’s iPod launch coincided exactly with the recession that had followed the Internet bubble burst and 9/11 less than a decade ago:
“Many observers thought the company had gone mad. Apple was launching an expensive new product (the first iPod cost $399) in the depths of the worst downturn the technology industry had ever seen. It was venturing outside its familiar market, for personal computers, into the fiercely competitive field of consumer electronics. And it was taking on Sony, the giant of the industry. The iPod’s name, sceptics declared, stood for ‘idiots price our devices’.”
The Economist also notes how, after the crash (of music pricing and music revenues from CD sales) the record companies had started to understand how much more convenient a subscription model was against selling music by the album. Now the next step is to “hiding the cost of a music subscription inside something else.” You buy a Nokia phone and get a year’s load of music for instance. Or you buy a car, and it sings for one year – or a car’s life time perhaps.
And just as iPods and downloadable music have strongly increased the relevance of live acts, especially for independent bands, so will e-Books do for literature and writers – says Irish writer and e-Book evangelist Julian Gough in an article of the Irish Times, because readings and literary festivals will become much bigger “as books dematerialise”.