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Google: 'iPod will hold all the world's TV in 12 years'

The future of music inspires the future of mobile

By Jo Best
Published: Monday 27 November 2006

The idea of fitting your entire music collection into a single device the size of a packet of cigarettes might have seemed outlandish 15 years ago. But that was before the iPod. Now, one Google exec is predicting the iPod will lead a further media transformation of similar magnitude in the coming decade.

Speaking at the FT World Communications Conference, Nikesh Arora, Google's VP of European operations, told delegates that, in the coming years, the plummeting price of storage and its increasing volume-to-size ratio will give iPods almost unlimited potential to hold music and video.

Arora said, by 2012, iPods could launch at similar prices to those on sale now and yet be capable of holding a whole year's worth of video releases. Around 10 years down the line that could be expanded, creating iPods that can hold all the music ever sold commercially.

He said: "In 12 years, why not an iPod that can carry any video ever produced?" The Google exec said tech is now pursuing a price volume game - searching for the price point at which content will take off for the mainstream.

He added: "It's clearly begun happening," citing iTunes' 99 cent per song download model.

And, Arora believes, mobile is likely to follow the same path. "Mobile is not going to be a different thing," he added - and if the mobile industry is to capitalise on the growth of content, it would be wise to ape the development of the internet.

He said: "The mobile industry has to go through the same phases the internet has gone through... Mobile will have the same learning curve. It would be somewhat foolish to leapfrog the stages the internet went through.

"But before they get there, they will need to satisfy the basic things people are used to doing on the internet."

In 12 years, why not an iPod that can carry any video ever produced?
As a result, the Google VP believes, there will be greater convergence between mobile and internet, as consumers expect to be able to access traditional web content and services on the mobile platform.

Google has already begun to exploit the union by expanding its ad sales business to the world of mobile, after signing deals with operators in Asia and Europe.

The search giant's CEO believes advertising will eventually go on to play a greater role in the mobile industry: eventually doing away with subscriptions in favour of users agreeing to watch targeted advertising.
If the storage is not on the client device side but instead on a massive server somewhere, and the client device simply streams the content from the server in real-time via high-speed wireless networks, we can imagine this scenario of an iPod with immediate access to all the world's video much sooner than 10 or 12 years out.

On the mobile side, you can't argue with these points. It's particularly acute for Google to advocate for web-style open standards on mobile platforms since they could potentially leverage their business into mobile in a spectacularly profitable way -- but the mobile operators are the gatekeepers and have disproportionate power to determine the customer experience in the mobile space. These operators clearly see the value of mobile search and advertising and will either try to navigate around Google to claim that revenue all for themselves, or partner with Google directly as KDDI in Japan has -- since it stands to reason that this is what their users would prefer as a mobile search engine/advertiser.

It's my belief that the dimension of location will allow Google or other mobile advertisers to most effectively target users in the mobile domain. We can conceive of the idea of 'branded space', wherein a person walks through a given area and accesses virtual billboards, coupons and other types of product offerings. While the beginnings of this type of location-enabled 'm-commerce' are establishing themselves in Japan and South Korea, it's pretty wide open here in the US.

It's clear to me that Color Eyewear offers a huge value to these mobile players, since the idea of 'branded space' requires a see-through information overlay on the real world. Holding up a mobile phone to see what new offers come your way as you walk through town is only the earliest approximation of what will be possible looking out a little ways.

Thanks to River_Traveler98.

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