Apple has been selling billions of songs online for over two years now thru iTunes. Yet, it has not been able to widen its market in a Asia Pacific region mainly because of high risk of copyright issues and prevalence of peer-to-peer sharing. I was actually curious before on how it works especially when downloadable videos came out but never got to try it because of the restrictions.
So, I was surprised that where iTunes failed to reach, Mobiuslive will take the risk and make the jump. The site was first reported over at PTB by Mike, while Luis confirmed he’s the one behind the development of the site and Inq7.net did a short story just a while ago. There’s actually no contest here since Apple does not want to make a presence here in the Philippines and the rest of greater Asia for that matter. The real competition here is between Mobiuslive and Fliptunes (by Mozcom).
So, we go back to the question: Will Filipinos buy music online? It’s a question I cannot categorically answer but considering our fondness for anything free, I doubt a significant number will get used to buying their music online. Let me throw in some scenarios:
- Filipinos who do buy CD albums buy them not only because they love the music. They want to own a piece of it. Consider the CD a trophy. If you buy an MP3 copy online, there’s no trophy to be proud of that you can display in your CD rack in your room or in your car with the 12-disk CD changer.
- Buying online might seem more convenient because you don’t have to physically go out and buy the CD. But wait, with the pre-paid card model (as against credit card), you do have to personally go out and buy credits. It now boils down to which of the two have a wider distribution arm.
- Cross-over buyers could hurt album sales. Remember that the target market are those who buy the albums. You can’t convert those who are already hooked up with the free P2P so you could end up getting less sales from the CD albums because buyers can just get the 1 or 2 songs they really like and not buy the CD instead. Not good if the band/artist is rooting for a platinum or double-platinum record.
- Since Mobiuslive allows for sharing downloaded songs with friends, it might tickle the “me too” mentality and you could end up with 1 buyer and 100 downloaders. I call it the “Wendy’s Salad Bar Phenomenon”.
- There are torrents, MP3 IRC channels, Limewire, Kazaa and a host of others peer-to-peer networks. Mobiuslive is selling them at Php20 each. Hmmm… Twenty pesos? Free? Twenty pesos? Free?
Despite these possibilites, I have to give props to Mobius and Fliptunes for taking the risk. It’s just business after all.
Okay, I should stop here lest people would ask me where I got all those mp3s in my iPod.