Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

How the iPhone will alter the world of music

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 …

Fri, Mar 7, 2008, 09:07

   

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.
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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 shelf- space 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.