Gnarls Barkley Download Hits Number 1

3rd April 2006 @ 1:07 am
Music, iTunes, Shopping and Technology
This Gnarls Barkley thing has me thinking about music distribution again. My previous thoughts are here.

I don't understand why CD shops don't offer a 'burn on demand' service (and do nice glossy artwork prints) or a 'top up my ipod' service for the tracks they don't physically stock. HMV in Islington only had 50% of the things I wanted today, and I'm still looking for the odd thing that I know is out of print (Coffee & Cigarettes soundtrack, anyone?).

Frankly, an entire record store could be replaced with one of those little buggies that people kit out to serve coffee (like this one). Mount an array of touch screens, provide USB jacks and charging points, scoot around looking for a captive audience. Why not put the same hardware on tube platforms, bus stops, or in the back of aeroplane seats.

I'm thinking of a mobile data centre, but it could be done through a network instead. Without the restrictions of a shop, where would people be open to buying download tracks? Could I walk along the beach with a custom laptop and sell you things for your ipod? What about parks? Nightclubs? Why aren't pubs and clubs offering a bluetooth-powered 'get the ringtone' service for the current playing track (why do they let services like Shazam have that potential business?).

The totally untethered version doesn't even need much in the way of upstream bandwidth - a 3G phone could serve the requests and they could be delivered from the iTunes store by satellite. For one user at a time, a 3G data connection alone would be enough.

How long before the iPod can access the iTunes store all by itself over GSM/3G/WiFi/Bluetooth and all of this speculation is rendered moot?