iPhone Applications Open Doors for Mobile Music

It’s been in your pocket since the mid-90s. It’s been more of an essential than your home phone since the early millennium. And now it stands to replace your laptop, your library, your mp3 player, and so much more. Gone are the days of tearing apart your home in search of a calculator, calendar or flashlight, cellphones have long replaced these everyday appliances. With the intense popularity of the iPod, most assumed it was only a matter of time until phones doubled as music players. What’s truly amazing about Smart Phones is just how much -and what type of things- they do. The eventual inclusion of internet access, games, and the usual electronic conveniences coming to cell phones has been widely expected, but with the iPhone as its pioneer, Smart Phones are changing consumer’s expectations of what a phone should do. With yet another infectious ad campaign, Apple has let America know that for almost any need imaginable, “There’s an app for that.”
Looking for a restaurant? Want to tune your guitar? Need to tie a double fisherman’s knot? The apps store offers solutions, both free and paid, to a vast array of problems. On July 10, 2008 Apple launched the App Store, making the iPhone the most customizable phone ever. Sure, other Smart Phones had internet access and some even had full keyboards, but iPhone owners can go to the App Store on their phone and download any number of apps; games, utilities, music players and navigational tools. Anything that isn’t effective can be deleted as quickly as it was downloaded, and anything not yet invented is probably in the works. Other Smart Phone companies followed suit, creating their own versions of the App Store or entering into new, innovative deals. Rio Caraeff, the executive VP of Universal Music Group’s eLabs division, told Billboard Magazine that Apple’s innovation has “created a tremendous sense of urgency among the [device manufacturers] and among the operators that don’t carry iPhones that they have to be more innovative… it’s a tremendous psychological and economic factor that is motivating everybody else to up their game.”
Even more exciting than fake a X-Ray application -called X-Ray FX- is the potential the App Store (and its competitors) brings to the music industry. The popularity of music streaming services has skyrocketed as a result of the App Store, doubling the registration rate of one such service, Pandora. To gain revenue from its newest platform, Pandora has been incorporating audio ads into its music streams. Ailing programs gained overnight success from the App Store and other mobile offerings. The Shazam music ID application uses a microphone to identify any song that is playing and many times gives the user a link to buy the song. As a result of its placement in an App Store advertisement and its release on the G1 Android phone last year, the company’s users almost doubled.
Artists including Soulja Boy Tell’Em, Death Cab for Cutie, Lady Gaga, Pink and Akon have created apps that offer streaming songs, videos, blog posts, news, photos and even the distance from the band to the fan’s location. The popularity of these apps shows the fan’s desire for an increased connection, as well as the immense marketing potential that exists in mobile applications. Artists like the Presidents of the United States of America see a business opportunity and are selling a three-dollar app that lets fans stream their entire catalogue. Labels are taking notice and are hoping to develop more sophisticated artist apps to generate profit.
There are lyric database apps, the Guitar Hero mobile game, DJ scratching apps, and some semi-respectable (for a phone) recording applications. The options are seemingly endless and a concert tickets app has to be on the way. Smart phones represent a new way to directly market music and possibly the closest access the industry has ever had to its fans. The newest iPhone software update included capabilities for subscription-model apps and in-app payment so that developers can generate more than a one time profit.
In the past year iPhone users have downloaded over 800 million applications. This means that in the past year those same people have opted to let their phones do 800 million things they never expected their phones to do before. So the next time you’re struggling to find an old household item, take a peek at your Smart phone first. Because you never know, there could be an app for that.



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