Google Wave and the Death of the Album
I wrote some time ago about the release of Google Wave, and how seductive new technology could be. Recently though, it has been reported that Google has dropped the concept as it just didn’t gain any traction amongst users. Now in my view, the concept is a brilliant one, consolidate all of your messaging into one platform, and collaborate with anyone, anywhere. Today's blog is about the demise of Google Wave and the death of the album!
In the last line of my previous blog about Google Wave, I wrote, “Now I've just got to figure out how to use Google's new toy....” and therein lies the problem with Google Wave, a great idea that simply wasn’t able to be made easy or intuitive enough for it to be used by anyone other than diehard enthusiasts. Like any piece of software, or any product for that matter, customer needs and product usability are actually more important than the wiz bang technology that the designer or developer has incorporated. We see this problem frequently in new software products, great concepts with horrible execution, they obviously made perfect sense to the developers but not to anyone else.
All of which, in an odd way, brings me to the ongoing discussion about the death of the music album. This concept has been kicking around for a few years now, and has gained considerable traction since the advent of ITunes and the ability to easily buy single tracks. Now it’s certainly true that album sales have decreased in relation to singles sales in recent years. In my view that’s simply an evolutionary trend in listening habits, singles have been around forever but “on the go” music via MP3 players and “I thingies” in general have made it easier to listen to single tracks and create playlists etc. (no more mixtapes…) In addition, music competes with far more recreational activities than before, home theatre as just one example has seen a huge increase in sales in recent years.
Albums however still have a place for music listeners and likely will for a long long time. If the music is good, people will buy albums, because albums simply provide a different music experience (not necessarily better or worse), and buying behaviour will be determined not by any new distribution method but by how people want to listen to their music. So for music, and albums, customer needs and usability are far more important than new distribution technology, and to paraphrase Mark Twain, in my view while Google Wave may be gone, reports of the death of the album have been greatly exaggerated. And one last thing for today, I never did work out how to use Google Wave effectively!
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