WiFi File-Swapping

PaidContent links to this article about file-swapping using PocketPCs and wireless.  They also note that people have developed KaZaA Wireless.  Hm, let’s see – people swapping through simple wireless transfers with people they pass on the street, and people start using open wireless hotspots to do their downloading, and then the whole RIAA lawsuit strategy goes to pants. Very, very interesting.

Another Selling Copies through P2P Venture

This press release was passed around Pho today.  The concept sounds kind of like Wippit.  The main difference seems to be that they won’t have a subscription fee and will only charge for CD burning and moving to portable devices.  Of course, DRM galore.  Both these systems are interesting ideas.  Like Altnet and Weed, the general idea is that consumers will be more likely to buy copies if they can do it in their natural habitat – namely, P2P.  In this way, these systems compete with free without competing with P2P.  Altnet and Weed try to do this by being in the same search listing as free content on KaZaA; Wippit and Qtrax try to get people to migrate to a different P2P client that allows sharing within the closed network.  There might also be some cost savings from this approach in the form of lower storage and maintanence costs, which could get passed on to the consumer in the form of lower prices. 

It will be interesting to see if record companies continue to invest in this area.  To me, it seems like there’s some upside here, particularly in cases like Weedshare where the consumer gets some kickback for forwarding the song to his friends (a la mediAgora).  The notion of going through P2P rather than against it makes some sense, though it would have some important consequences for how the record companies currently use spoofing and other such tools. 

An Easy Way to Kill the Music Rentals Market

Microsoft released a technical beta of its new player, but here’s the real money line from a related Wired article

“With Napster’s subscription model, users would have access to the same number of songs but for a monthly subscription fee of $10. Of course, Napster plans to charge a little more for the portability option — “about the price of a retail CD,” Goldberg said.”

Oh good, because consumers don’t already have enough incentives to avoid renting music.  The prices for subscription services are already substantially above the average yearly spending on music (~$71/person in 2002).  Raising prices further to move to portable devices makes this even more of a boutique market.  I understand why they would want to price discriminate, but that’s not a particularly easy thing to do when they have to compete with P2P.  It seems like they’re going to drive away more consumers than they attract.