The iPod Is Vulnerable

The young people I have been working with and studying the past four years voluntarily remind me that they have iPod fatigue.

I have written about this before but I keep hearing it -- and the term iPod fatigue is theirs not mine.

There is no doubt in my mind that you'd have to amputate their arms to pry an iPod away from this generation, but I've been thinking about iPod fatigue a lot lately. It seems to me that what these young people are saying is -- entertain me where I live.

They are not particularly addressing the terrestrial radio industry. Outside of NPR and some catch-as-catch-can listening this generation isn't looking to radio for help.

But they are plainly tired of hearing the same songs over and over again. It's like they all turned into Steve Rivers (just kidding, Steve!). You know, many of their iPods have a limited play list smaller than Steve. The fact is iPods aren't loaded with lots of music like radio station computers.

Another factor may be that as the years go on Gen Y is spending more time with their cell phones and smart devices. It's not unusual to see college students carrying around Blackberry Pearls. Of course, not every young person is blessed with a chance to go to college and many other young people can't afford an iPod.

But, almost everyone has a cell phone whether they can afford it or not.

I strongly believe that the mobile device will be the delivery system for content -- someday for music when the copyright issues are worked out -- and just about everything else from short videos to movies.

If I'm reading it right this a wonderful opportunity for record labels to satisfy the desire of the next generation to access more variety. Now, can they work out the remaining DRM issues and be the solution for this generation's boredom with their iPods?

Radio companies have an opportunity to create content for mobile devices. I know it's a bitter pill to swallow after spending billions of dollars to own terrestrial radio stations but the Internet is the new transmitter and the cell phone is the new receiver.

This generation is definitely not bored with their cell phones. They are attached to them permanently. I kid my USC students that someday when a new baby is born there will be an obstetrician and pediatrician, the parents, a psychologist and a lawyer to no doubt handle their RIAA lawsuits when they get older. I also say that I can see the day when a chip will be implanted in every new baby's head so they can receive signals, hear music and be on the GPS of life.

I'm kidding. I think.

They're not sure either.

One thing is for sure -- something is going on worth further study. The iPod is getting long in the tooth. It's still better than a radio to most but it's clearly not going to be enough to command the restless Gen Y.

It's too early to jump to conclusions, but times they are a changin' in the mobile space.

For the beleaguered radio and record industries -- it means opportunity if they will listen with an open mind.

If not, Steve Jobs will continue to satisfy their need for new content.

Which way do you want it?

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