in Innovation, Mobile Phones, Music

Buying music from a mobile phone

200704123player.jpgSome weeks ago I read an interesting article titled “Mobile music download too complex” on Digit Online.

In the article were reported some statements:

  • Buying music on a mobile phone is expensive, complicated and slow.
  • Simplifying the process is the key.
  • On average, users must click 20 times in a process that takes around two minutes to buy a ring tone.
  • So many platforms aren’t capable of even the most basic content configurations.

I agree on all of these statements.

When I found myself designing a new Media Player with integrated shopping capabilities I had all of these limitations crystal clear in my mind. I ended up designing the 3Player.

I think that with that product we overcame all the limitations:

  • It was the first J2ME application integrating a Media player and the shopping experience in the same product.
  • On some mobile phone you could shop while listening at music.
  • We designed a compelling user interface and delivered a simple method by which the user could be alerted of new entries in the catalog.
  • Quick search in the catalog was implemented as well.
  • The user could also load his music on the mobile phone and it could be played by the 3Player.
  • We supported MP3 ID tags for all music.
  • The application was very fine tuned and since we were running on a UMTS network download times were very good.

The project was quite challenging at the time (November 2005)

  • I was not sure that we could have a Java Virtual Machine playing music and browse the catalog at the same time.
  • Implementing DRM at J2ME level required some custom development by handset vendors.
  • A lot of optional JSRs were required to make the whole thing work.
  • RMS is evil, most of the times.
  • Porting the application to different architectures was quite a challenge.

It was November 2005 and after the application was delivered in Italy and lanched with Mimmo (LG U8550 packaged with bundled external speakers and the brand new Eros Ramazzotti album) it was ported to other H3G countries. In 2006 H3G Sweden won the 3GSM Award for “Best Made For Mobile Music Service”.

I think that the 3Player was a great project. All of the people involved in the project had a great commitment and brought in a great execution. That was a perfect example of real innovation. Look at what technology can give to you, recombine stuff, be clever and deliver something new to the market.

A lot of lessons were learnt from that project:

  • If you want to be innovative you need to take some risk. (In 3Player we decided to go with Java instead of having a native application).
  • Even if you have a great idea you need to have senior management support to get it through the process faster enough to continue to be innovative.
  • You cannot do all by yourself. Support from third party developer and mobile phone manufacturer was critical to the success of the 3Player.

I cannot say thanks enough to Filippo De Vita from beeweeb. He is a very talented guy with a great vision on what mobile applications should be.

The article from Digit end with the following sentence: Apple iPhone, the combined MP3 Player and mobile phone expected to hit the US market later this year, is a step in the right direction.

Well, I think we did this at least a couple of years before.

Why do I blog this? Sort of celebration of some good work I did in the past and a very good example of an innovative product brought to the market with an innovative process.

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