Technological Innovations and its Impact on Digital Music

userpic=white-ipodA number of articles over the last few days have gotten me thinking about how technological innovations are going to affect my favorite music player, the iPod Classic, and digital music in general. I’m not the only one thinking about the future of the ‘Classic; Stuff magazine says that now is the time to buy the iPod Classic before it goes away.  So I figured I’d ruminate a bit over lunch.

What got my mind awhirl were two announcements from this week’s shindig in Vegas. In the first, Kingston has announced 512GB and 1TB flash drives, with a very small size. In the second announcement, Crucial has come out with a 960GB SSD for just $600. This is probably the handwriting on the wall for the current hard-drive based iPod Classic. Its hallmark was storage, and a max of 160GB. I can now envision an iPod Touch-like device, with a range of sizes (probably 256GB and 512GB, but perhaps 128GB), at price points similar to an iPad or iPad Mini. I’d expect something this year or next. The iPod Classic is a dead-MP3 player playing.

Another interesting digital music announcement came from Amazon. They have announced an AutoRip service that delivers digital copies of CDs along with the physical copies.Supposedly, they are going to offer free MP3 versions of your Amazon CD purchases including any discs you’ve bought since 1998. The free MP3s will be stored in Amazon Cloud Player after you purchase a new CD and are available for playback or immediate download. Past purchases that are eligible should automatically show up in Cloud Player. The free digital tracks do not count against your Cloud Player storage limits as with purchases from Amazon’s MP3 store. Supposedly, more than 50,000 CDs are AutoRip eligible. You can find the list here.

This is an interesting announcement, as I buy most of my music from Amazon. It also raises a question: If you purchase an album through Amazon Marketplace (that is a used or new album from a 3rd party retailer, potentially fulfilled by Amazon), shouldn’t you be able to download it as well if Amazon has that version digitized? After all, just as with a new CD, you have the physical possession of the media. If that’s the case, it will be, as Arte Johnson once said, very very interesting.

ETA: I just got an email from Amazon that said “Songs from these 107 CDs you purchased from Amazon in the past are now available for you in Cloud Player for FREE…” Followed the links, and loads of songs are now there. In fact, I’ve noticed a number of albums purchased for my daughter (and perhaps others) as gifts are also in that list. Given that the Amazon Cloud Drive then permits (from the Cloud Player view, not the media library) me to re-download those albums, it appears I can get a copy of anything I purchase as a gift (not that I ever would 😉 ). Seems like that’s a flaw in the system that does not exist for iTunes; it will be interesting to see if the Music Publishing companies realize this potential abuse of the rules.


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