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Thursday, September 16, 2004

Broadband's Ultimate Killer Application -Online Music by OmMalik

Om Malik writes,"Apple, Microsoft, RealNetworks, and Sony are fighting like cats and dogs over a dollar-a-download business that will soon turn into a financial migraine of the worst kind. As that happens, consumers will find high-speed Internet service indispensable."Back when the original Napster was all the rage, we saw a sharp increase in the number of broadband users. That's because most of them wanted to swap files with each other. Many Napster users discovered that while a 56-kilobits-per-second dial-up connection was good enough for e-mail, it lacked the oomph needed for trading big music files.Expect an encore as the barrage of advertisements from online music services such as MSN Music and iTunes creates a desire for ever faster connections.Downloadable music, however, will be just one catalyst of the broadband explosion. Take online radio, for instance. Online streaming radio stations have been around for years, but now the sound has improved to almost CD quality. Customers don't even need computers; they can buy devices that stream Internet radio directly over high-speed connections. But they have to have broadband. Every day there are new online applications that allow people to form communities or fan clubs to share playlists. Other free services, such as Mercora, enable consumers to easily set up their own nano-radio stations and share them with family and friends. These services are going to mirror the growth rates we saw with instant messaging. Next Emerging Trend shall be the big 50-megabits-per-second pipes that the Japanese and Koreans have. Then movies, which are broadband's next killer app, can flow as freely as iTunes.

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