Beats Buys MOG

Only one will win. There’s one Amazon, one Facebook, one Twitter and there will be one streaming music service. Will it be MOG?

Spotify has problems. It sounds crummy and uptake amongst kids is close to nonexistent.

David Hyman will claim MOG sounds superior. That more tracks stream at 320 kbps, and the codec is better.

But I’m not sure any of that really matters. And I abhor the MOG interface. Intuitive it is not, whatever they claim.

You see most people still have no idea what Spotify is, never mind MOG or Rdio. And if they know the names, they can’t explain them. But if Jimmy Iovine goes on "Idol" and keeps talking about MOG…

Game over.

Are you following the headphone wars? If you think Beats makes the best, you can only hear the low end, you know nothing about sound. But Beats has triumphed through advertising, through marketing, through adoption/shilling by high-visibility stars. Kids want to be like Mike. Only in this case, it’s Dre. And Jimmy’s unending coterie. And in addition to its staggering market share, Beats has blown up the high end headphone market, before Beats it barely existed.

Not that Spotify’s toast. Spotify has done an incredible job of expanding upon its footprint. With apps and radio and Facebook integration and the Yahoo deal.

It comes down to a battle of old school versus new. Stars/marketing versus techies. And oftentimes in the new world, the latter has emerged victorious. Because it’s less about placating the little girls than creating foolproof pipe. And speaking of pipe, it all comes down to the mobile handset, and although I disdain MOG’s desktop usability, on the handset, both apps are very similar, MOG’s might even be better, and that’s where people pay, they have to, that’s where the money is.

In other words, Jimmy may be able to convince kids they need streaming services. In this case, MOG. Hell, his job is to convince people they need all these musical acts.

Used to be the kids were first. But they were last on smartphones and last on Twitter. How many articles did we have to read saying Twitter was toast, that little kids wanted nothing to do with it? Well now, kids inhabit Twitter like they do school. It’s where Justin Bieber started Carly Rae Jepsen. The coming fight is for the hearts and minds of the kids, who don’t know they need a streaming service, but will one day adopt one.

Yes, the game is over. We’re going to steaming. It’s going to eviscerate piracy through convenience. Ownership, like the CD, will not die overnight, hell, not everyone uses a smartphone. But streaming will eclipse ownership the same way Netflix decimated the DVD business. Hell, are you storing your favorite programs for eternity on your DVR? No, you believe what you want will be at your fingertips forever, ownership is for pussies.

Isn’t it strange that movies and TV are ahead of music. Then again, for too long music thought it could pull everybody back to the twentieth century. But not Jimmy. Sometimes you’ve got to buy to move forward. The cognoscenti know that was the story with iTunes, Steve Jobs bought SoundJam from Casady & Greene and brought its developers on board. "Not invented here" is a mantra Jimmy gave up on after past disasters. While his compatriots at the labels are fighting over market share, Jimmy’s going for the big money. Yes, the valuation of MOG, if successful, will make Universal look puny in comparison. Hell, have you checked the value of Spotify recently?

This is all good for consumers. Just like Facebook is better than MySpace, usability is ultimately improved, the more players in the streaming wars, the better the eventual victorious product.

The only question is at what point Apple enters the game and wipes everybody else out. The Cupertino company is rarely first, but almost always best. Apple’s got all the credit card numbers. It’s got the hardware, the iPhone, iPod and iPad. Then again, Ping was a disaster. Is Apple missing the boat here or just waiting for someone else to create the market?

Yes, while you’re bitching about Spotify payments, the ship has sailed. No one in business is paying attention. It’s a fight to the finish. Which just got a hell of a lot more interesting.

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