Music on your phone

M:Metrics has just made a new press release with some juicy data about mobile phones and the use of these devices as music players: MOBILE MUSIC USAGE IS CLIMBING, BUT NOT ALL MUSICPHONES ARE CREATED EQUAL.

I’m particularly happy about this press release because while I’m not an expert analyst, I was actually involved in the creation of this press release. My contribution was needed because of the issue of identifying the devices that should actually be part of this analysis. We hear every day about music phones, feature phones, smart phones, etc, but what are they? Which are the detailed features or characteristics that make up a music phone?

Internally we discussed a lot about this and everyone provided his own view. The devices taken into account in this analysis are the result of our internal discussion.

Sometimes it is really hard to build a list of devices defining a set of rules. When you first define these rules you will end up including some device that you did not want or miss one that you wanted to be part of the list. An example is the Motorola V3, it can play MP3’s, it can be connected to the PC and you can sideload songs from your computer and you have a tiny music player, but does this make it a music phone? In my opinion it does not. The music player is slow and ugly. You can’t build playlists, you can move to the next or previous song, but you have to go back to the main list. It has a lot of memory, but doesn’t really compare to the 2-4GB of an iPod Nano, it’s nearer to the first versions of the iPod shuffle.
Compared to the Sony Ericsson W810i, the V3 is nothing when you compare music-features.

So what is the difference? When does a mobile phone (that was born as an apparatus to make and receive calls while on the move) turn into a device to also play music? Is it the little walkman button that make it an iPod competitor?
Should we talk about Music-optimized? Music-optimized it means that it had all those features that you would expect from an MP3 player, the appropriate keys to start and stop music, to skip to the next song and then all the interface and features to build a playlist, to see the available songs in an easy and quick manner.

It is all very interesting, because of course the fragmentation that exists in the mobile space makes it really hard to define a single rule that will match all these requirements. Is the iPhone part of this family? It doesn’t really have a key that you can press to start music. Is a blackberry a music-optimized device simply because I could use the rocker to move to the next songs with an appropriate software installed?

Very interesting discussion and collecting very different points of you. If you have your own opinion of what a music-phone and a music-optimized phone is, please let me know.