FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Are iPods Losing their Cool?

Are trend-setting college students burning out on iPods?

A survey of young people conducted by the Emmis radio division suggests a growing frustration with the current state of MP3 content:

"We spend a lot of time on the college campuses," [Emmis radio division president Rick] Cummings said, "because they’re the leading edge" in trends and habits for younger listeners. He said his latest research has detected "iPod fatigue" which essentially means that younger listeners will have "100 songs on their iPods and they’re sick of dealing with it." The opportunity for radio, said Cummings, is "to continue to lean on content and to bridge that [technology] with the radio audience."

Cummings believes that professionally produced podcasts are the answer to "iPod fatigue," and will eclipse the current collection of podcast offerings (noting that even the most popular podcasts currently have only a few thousand listeners). Of course, this may all be wishful thinking on the part of broadcast radio, which is surely watching the imminent move of Howard Stern to satellite radio with a wary eye, as well as grassroots media produced by hobbyist podcasters and vloggers (many of whom will become more polished as they gain experience).

Such an approach is typical of established media when encountering a new technology; they are torn between looking for ways to dismiss or destroy it, and figuring out how to make money off it. In the end, they embrace it, and might even make a profit. But it will be on the technology's terms.

At any rate, what those "leading edge" college kids return to campus with after the holidays will tell us a lot about where this medium is headed.

Sources: Billboard Radio Monitor, Ubercool