Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Music on Demand = Book on Demand?

As we sit and listen to Spotify, free over our Android phone we now read that HP has joined forces with Omnifone, a cloud-based unlimited music services, to launch a European music store. MusicStation will be available to HP PC customers in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland and will give them unlimited access to millions of tracks for a monthly fee.

New users will be given a 14-day free trial period in which they can download and keep up to 10 DRM-free tracks per month onto their computer, for later playback, copying etc., or can access 6.5 million tracks streamed from the cloud. The monthly subscription is similar to that offered by Spotify.

So would you buy a PC because of it, or would you be prepared to spend the subscription to access it? HP is a gorilla in the PC market shipping 48 million units a year and having 20% global market share, but is the move strategic and about music and media, or merely about shifting tin?

The major issue is one of ‘subscription and access’ to music versus ‘pay for and own’. Music, unlike most media, is often a short time experience which can be in the background and the individual tracks are often repeated far more than any other media. ‘Music on demand’ makes a lot of sense, and irrespective of whether its Spotify’s advertising plus subscription model, or HP’s subsidy plus subscription model, it has to be paid for. What is clear, is that the days of seeing shelves of vinyl or CDs are numbered and if its on a hard drive and accessible on demand, does it really carry the same ownership hang-ups?

The book market should not assume that books are different. As we move digitally ownership and access on demand offer equally interesting options.

1 comment:

Martyn Daniels said...


An interesting article in the register about the profitability of the Apple iTunes store.