Subscription versus Ownership?

One of the most significant open issues regarding internet-delivered content (music, videos, etc.) is ownership versus subscription. As I have raved about the Yahoo! music service to my friends, I have been surprised to learn how many insist on owning their music. Even David Pogue, a respected New York Times writer lands firmly on ownership in his Blog posting.

I lean toward the subscription model for most run-of-the-mill content because (a) I see how much money I have wasted on music and DVDs I enjoyed only once and (b) I like the ability to switch to a new service provider that has a superior offering. In fact I look forward to the day when much PC software (such as Microsoft Office) is sold on a subscription model.

Perhaps it will take time and earned trust for more users to believe that with the subscription model they will always be able to find their favorite things. Or (more likely) we will find that service providers will need to offer both flavors for their customers.
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Yahoo! Music Unlimited Gets it Right! On the First Try!

I am impressed.  Normally I expect big companies (like Microsoft) to need several releases to get new products and services right.  That is the failure of marketing versus internal politics.

Yahoo! has broken this trend with their release of Yahoo! Music Unlimited.   I have become a fan of subscription music, and have tried most of the new services. Listen, from Rhapsody, was doing a good job for me for awhile. Then today I tried Yahoo! and was amazed at how much they got right on the first try. They have an impressive music catalogue. The use interface makes sense.  They have some good personalization.  And their transfer to other devices is very straight forward, as well as a nice bonus.   Note that I like it without even mentioning the category-killer price of $6.99 /month for pay-as-you go.

 Although I have signed up for the month-by-month service, I already feel I will stick around a while.   Good job Yahoo! marketing and technical teams!
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Sell the benefits versus sell the technology

Time and time again we see technology companies use the tech terms to try to sell the technology.  One good example was ISDN; how many remember what that term means?  It failed as a higher-speed access technology for consumers, and partly because of the same mindset that allowed the telcos to call it ISDN.  Similarly, what is iDEN, GPRS, 1xRTT, and other catchy consumer phrases?  Most people do not know.  And they should not care.
We are watching the same trend with VoIP - voice over internet protocol.  Phil Harvey makes mention of a mini-survey of VoIP users who did not even know the term VoIP.  Watch for AOL to figure out how to make this simple and appealing to customers with their recent announcement.  I note that in their press release AOL makes minimal use of the term VoIP.
5:24:01 PM    comment [0]
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Once again, it should be about the customer...

While many people tout the success of the iPod, the PlayStation, and other "platforms", it is amazing to see how many companies miss the point -- that it is supposed to be about providing complete solutions for what customers need.
It seems that Sony has missed the mark once again with the PlayStation Portable. I watched them miss with the Mini Disks, which were a superior technology to the Walkman and cassette tapes, but where Sony failed to realize that the Mini Disk should be a computer peripheral rather than a stand-alone entertainment box.
I have yet to try a PlayStation Portable, but Stephen Wildstrom at BusinessWeek provides great insights into the missed functionality and proprietary fences that Sony has built around this product.
They have created a Universal Media Disk (UMD) that are pre-recorded only, are expensive, and lack a support network of titles and inexpensive rentals. They have a limited form of WiFi but prohibit streaming music and video. They failed to allow easy synchronization for song loading. And they support only two music formats -- MP3 and their own ATRAC.
We all need to learn from the successes and failures of others. Sony would be wise to buy Apple, just to get Steve Jobs and his team to show Sony how to create a new product sensation and break down traditional barriers.
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