December 28th is the Spanish equivalent to April Fool’s day. That is why I had to read twice the news that iFart Mobile (see video) was the best selling application in App Store during the holidays (iTunes Link).
All I knew was that a lot of people would be getting iPhones and iPod Touch MP3 players on Christmas Day. Christmas came a day early for us. On 12/24, my jaw hit the floor when I checked my stats. We sold 19520 units, providing $13364 in net income after Apple takes their cut. I now knew that Christmas Day would be bigger than I would have imagined. I made sure I was sitting down before I checked my day-after-Christmas stats. It was a good thing. On Christmas Day, 38,927 people purchased iFart Mobile. Thirty-eight thousand nine-hundred and twenty seven. Wow. Thats $27,249 net. Again I say, wow.
Thanks to KDDI Lismo music service, 90% of the digital music sales in Japan comes from mobile, according to Wireless Watch Japan. The Record Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) has reported 2007 figures, with total sales increasing for third year in a row, and with an spectacular 91% increase in Mobile Music downloads.
Quoting Music Media Watch, :
“Total music sales for 2007 in Japan came to JPY 466 billion (US $4.66 billion). While CD/DVD sales declined 4% from the previous year, digital downloads jumped up 41% to JPY 75.5 billion (US $755 million), comprising 16% of all music sold in Japan. Mobile downloads accounted for JPY 68 billion (US $680 million), more than 90% of the total figure for digital sales.”
Japan is the biggest mobile music market in the world, fifty times bigger than the German one. This raises 2 questions:
1) Would it be so successful if the RIAJ had imposed a tax on mobile phones to account for (or rather to legitimize) piracy?
Adobe just just released Adobe Media Player 1.0 and Adobe TV. Built on AIR, the Media Player supports Flash video and h264 video encoding, with 1080p, 720p and 480i resolutions. Users can subscribe to channels, with content available from CBS, Universal and MTV among others, including the Long Tail of niche content creators.
Adobe Flash technology already supports YouTube and it is a de facto standard for Internet TV and video clips. With the new launch Adobe aims not only at providing technology but also the Service behind. Adobe is playing in the same league as YouTube (without the social network component), iTunes (without the rental yet), Joost (without the P2P technology), Vuze (bittorrent based) or Miro (Internet video aggregator), only with different technology choices and content strategy.
Adobe has successfully reached some content agreements, and it is already inserting video ads. With the support of standard and hi-definition, Adobe Media Player can be a solid platform for Media companies to put their content in Internet. At least the ad-based business model is well known. And Adobe support mobile handsets will give even a more compelling proposition to content owners.
Once the initial annoyance fades away, curiosity comes in “anyway it is installed so let’s see how it works”. The first impression is Apple wants us to get used to his Mac look and feel. And it works, you feel like using a Mac, and I have to admit that I like it. Still, the fonts seem fuzzy in Safari when compared to IE7. Safari uses Mac OS X font anti-aliasing, while IE uses Windows native ClearType, and that is reason according to a report on Safari 3.1 on Windows in Ars Technica.
So, will I uninstall Safari? Well, why not keeping two browsers… Now I use Safari for Gmail and Google Reader, and IE7 for the rest: general browsing, on-line newspapers, banking, Amazon, YouTube, etc. I find useful to have email and RSS in a separated browser, and I can enjoy the cool look of Mac.
Conclusion: Steve Jobs is so convinced of the excellence of Safari, that he has pushed it with an iTunes update regardless the adverse comments it would generate. Is that arrogance or self-confidence?
According to an NPD report “Apple’s Mac shipments grew 60 percent in February compared with the same period last year, while the entire market grew just 9 percent.”
At last, the Music industry seems to start accepting that Internet and mp3 have changed the way people consume songs.
The announcement that Sony BMG will launch a DRM-free music download service, confirms the death of Music DRM. Last month Warner Music announced that they would sell DRM-free music through Amazon. Some months earlier, EMI and Vivendi Universal did similar announcements. The four biggest labels finally abandon DRM, the technology that users renamed as Digital Restrictions Management, instead of the original Digital Rights Management.
The push to kill DRM came from Apple itself in early 2007. When pressed to license iTunes DRM to other mp3 players, Steve Jobs refused, as licensing would mean leaking vital info that keeps DRM unbroken. Furthermore, he advised labels to remove protection instead. Steve Jobs reminded labels that they were already providing unprotected music whenever they sold a CD.
A few months later, DRM’s death it is a reality. Music labels are in a better position now than previously with Apple’s near-monopoly on music download. Amazon and the labels going direct will be a strong competition to Apple.
Both the consumers and the Music industry will win.
The Music Industry can not keep fighting to preserve their status quo. Internet, mp3 and iPods have changed the way we ingest music. DVD/CDs are doomed to disappear. The music and film industry will need to adapt to survive.
This chart from the article shows the trend for the Music Industry both in size and in formats.
With the costs of recording, manufacturing and distribution going down to almost zero thanks to Internet and new technologies, the role of the music labels becomes very thin, and many will disappear. At the same time, live performances are not part of promotion any more, but a business in itself generating revenues for artists. Similar to the music model before the 20th century, where artist made money mainly with performances. Only that today there is merchandising, advertisement rights, and publishing royalties (for adding the song to an ad or a movie) to add to the money inflow of artists.
Internet help artists to have their works popular to a wider audience. Artists have only to adapt to the new business models. Labels will need some painful restructuring, just as other industries had before.
No doubt, iPod is extremely successful in Japan, being one of the top selling iTunes stores. When iTunes Japan opened in August 2005, it sold one million songs in four days!! No wonder why the price of iPod in Japan is lower than in many other markets. The Japanese do download songs legally.
Some reports say that iPhone will be launched in Japan brought by Disney, as an MVNO over the Softbank network. See the story.
Mickey Mouse MVNO would bring content from Disney to the iPhone, in what could be a very compelling offer.
iPhone support for UMTS (3G) will be a pre-requisite to launch in Japan. With the Japanese obsession for clamshell phones, will iPhone surrender to Japanese habits, or will Apple succeed also in transforming the mobile phone market in Japan?
Apple already transformed the music industry. It seems easier to convince Japanese users of the advantages of a touch screen