So as cool as I think the jukebox in the sky was back in the day, as cool as the iphone or ipod touch seem to be, what I think’s even cooler is the jukebox in your pocket.
I am enjoying all the hysteria and hype in the cult of mac section of the blogsophere over the iphone and the ipod touch (daring fireball and ilounge are too good examples). And with the inclusion of WiFi in both mp3 players (the iphone too me is an mp3 player with a phone thrown in not the other way around not that this is a problem or a criticism just a point of view), there is a lot of interest in downloading and sharing music OTA (mobile industry geek speak for over the air). As someone who helped manage the development of the first commercially approved jukebok in the sky (back when I was at Loudeye during the first web boom), you would think seeing the jukebox in the sky vision come to reality that I would be excited.
To be honest, I am amazed that we’re still downloading music to devices. Yep you heard that correctly. That’s why I think the discussion about wifi and comparing the iphone and touch is missing the point. Given storage capacities for portable storage – you no longer need to download compressed music. It should all come pre-loaded. Literally every song commercially available in the U.S should come pre-loaded on your favorite new mp3 player. And trust me – I have to believe that would be a game changing device. In fact, even way cooler then the iphone or touch.
No way you say, that would be way too much space. Well back when we were at Loudeye and we built an online digital archive of essentially EVERY (yes EVERY) commercially available CD in the U.S. That ran to about 400,000 CDs. At an average length of around 40 minutes in uncompressed WAV format that equals 400 MB per CD. 400,000 x 400 MB sounds like a really big number and that comes out to 1.6 TB. Now back in 2000 when we built that system – a single instance of that much storage was a multi-million dollar expense. When compared to bandwidth it’s easy to see why a single instance was a lot more practical then imagining a day when 100′s of millions of instance would need to exist if it’s meant to be carried around in everyone’s pocket.
So what does that same 1.6 TB storage solution cost today? Now what’s interesting is that a terabyte hard drive costs a few hundred dollars. Yes, my technically knowledgeable friends are saying – in a few years we’ll likely have the 1.6 TB ready to go into an iphone or ipod. Ahhh – hold on – we don’t need to wait any longer. If we compress that music the way Apple already does in iTunes suddenly we don’t need 1.6 TB, we only 160 GB! That’s right – the entire iTunes catalog of music could come pre-loaded on the latest and greatest ipod classic. What I surprised is that some entreprenuer isn’t already doing this. Every teenager in the US would kill to own EVERYTHING in the music space. And in the word’s of Seth Godin, it would be one hell of a purple cow.
Now that would be cool. And it’s going to happen. And Mark Cuban can’t wait.