3G version iPods; Satellite Radio vs. Webcasting

Speaking of 3G (below), BBC technology analyst Bill Thompson, at first skeptical of 3G, compares it against iPods and changes his mind. Among his comments:

    But just as the World Wide Web was the “killer application” that drove internet adoption, music videos are going to drive 3G adoption.

    With Vodafone now pushing its own 3G service, and 3 already established in the UK, video on the phone is clearly going to become a must-have for kids sitting on the school bus, adults waiting outside clubs and anyone who has time to kill and a group of friends to impress.

    3G phones and iPods can co-exist, at least for a while, but if I had to bet on the long term I would go for content on demand over carrying gigabytes in my pocket.

    This will please the network operators, who are looking for some revenue from their expensively acquired 3G licences.

    But it goes deeper than that: playing music videos on a phone marks the beginning of a move away from the ‘download and play’ model we have all accepted for our iPods and MP3 players.

    After all, why should I want to carry 60GB of music and pictures around with me in my pocket when I can simply listen to anything I want, whenever I want, streamed to my phone?

    Oh – and of course you can always use the phone to make voice calls and send texts, something which ensures that it is always in someone’s pocket or handbag, available for other uses too.

On a somewhat related note earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal (paid subscription access) compared U.S. satellite radio services (such as Sirius and SM) against an often overlooked but bigger distribution means for radio — webcasting.

    While just 3.4 million Americans subscribe to satellite radio, about 19 million listen to Internet radio each week, according to research firms Arbitron Inc. and Edison Media Research. That’s still tiny compared with the 277 million who listen to regular radio each week, but the number of Internet listeners has grown fast. Just three years ago, only 11 million listened to Internet radio each week.

    “There seems to be a sense that technology will replace what’s existing,” says John Hogan, head of the radio division at San Antonio-based Clear Channel, in reference to the threat the Internet poses to traditional broadcast radio. Instead, he believes, “technology will challenge what’s existing,” but broadcasters will meet that challenge.

    Mr. Hogan’s confidence stems in part from the toehold broadcasters already have on the Internet. The online simulcasts provided by hundreds of broadcast stations in the U.S., including 200 Clear Channel stations, make those programs available to listeners anywhere in the world, as well as to people who might not have a radio at work but do have a computer.

    “People use [Internet simulcasts] to sample stations they can’t get,” says Tom Webster, an analyst at Edison Media Research, of Somerville, N.J. That broadening of their potential audiences may help traditional radio stations offset any loss of listeners to Internet-only stations.

The Journal article mentions only webcasts from licensed broadcasters. There are also thousands of live webcasts available from unlicensed broadcasters, including individuals. Every chill out listening to Cryosleep (‘Zero beat guaranteed’)? As I write this, 179 people are, including me.