Verizon-Motorola Decide, “We don’t need females to buy the DROID”

If you’ve seen the latest salvo by Verizon’s marketing ‘geniuses’, you’re led to believe that only girly-girls buy iPhones. Apparently if you want to be a man, you need a DROID.

If you thought past TV spots for the DROID were bad, check out the latest. You’ll swear you can hear the ‘Team America, World Police’ theme song in the background.

This ad campaign seems hellbent on condemning the DROID to be a niche device rather than one with consumer mass-appeal. No wonder rumors of Google launching their own phone had everybody buzzing over the weekend. There are too many niche devices emerging on the Android platform, and Google is rapidly turning into the Microsoft of smartphones by providing the OS to hardware manufacturers but not launching any devices themselves.

It’s not clear that replicating a Microsoft business model will be profitable for the likes of Motorola, HTC, et. al. Just look at what has happened to PC margins over the past few years: you can go buy a netbook for $200 at razor-thin margins to the manufacturer, yet Apple continues to grow their laptop and desktop market share while commanding margins in excess of 30%.

Google may not be a hardware company, but Motorola better hope that they’re not thinking, “oh this is why Apple made their own phone.”

Apple Checkmate’s Music Labels In Purchase of Lala

For the past decade, the way music is distributed has changed dramatically–and it has been Apple pushing it virtually every step of the way.   It now seems prophetic that Apple Records sued Apple, Inc. all the way back in 1978, the outcome of which banned Apple, Inc. from entering the music industry (for a while, at least).  Oh how times have changed.

The rise of the iPod and the MP3 brought us to the final destination for music’s distribution medium–the  Internet.  CDs are practically extinct.  Sites like Pandora and newcomer GrooveShark allow nearly unlimited free music listening in streaming format.  More recently, cheap hardware devices like the iPhone, Roku, and even some BluRay players have added streaming capabilities from the likes of Pandora and Netflix.  Access to music and movies has never been cheaper for consumers.

All of this leaves me (and probably lots of musicians) to wonder, what’s the point of record labels?  Distribution costs on a per-listen basis are effectively $0, and many people are discovering their new music by streaming it.  99.9% of songs are just a URL away.  It used to be the label did your marketing, PR, and distribution, but the cost of all of those things is nearing zero as well.  Bands have a litany of tools freely available to market themselves online, the most powerful of which is services like Pandora and Grooveshark, and now iTunes’+Lala.

I ask today’s musicians, are record labels really doing anything other than stealing a slice of your hard earned money?

For music lovers, how do you feel about pay-per-listen versus owning physical media?