I'm traveling again, and all week I have been dreading the fact that part of my journey requires a 2+ hour shuttle bus ride from the airport to my destination. To top it off, my mp3 player died on the flight, my laptop batteries were drained, I forgot a book and there is only a limited amount of entertaining things you can do with a Blackberry. Nothing scares me more than extended time with little other than my own thoughts.
But, as I got settled into my seat on the shuttle bus, I looked up to notice the sign "Free Wireless Internet Now Available on the Bus". Nice! But that only solved half my problem considering the state of my laptop battery. One eureka moment was followed by another when I looked above my seat to notice that there were AC outlets running along the roof of the bus.
So, here I am.... in the middle of nowhere, writing this, charging my laptop, streaming music from Streampad and being all-around productive. Yes, this will be a huge welcome addition to airline travel (hopefully soon), but what is more exciting is the in-car experience. Yes, Slacker is building out a dedicated satellite network to do this. Zing enables some great portable music consumption experiences via WiFi (in the Sansa Connect) - although it requires a Yahoo Music subscription. iPhones obviously support WiFi, although no one has yet to tell me how it works for streaming music from the web (and I haven't broken down and gotten one... yet). But, some of my buddies over at Sprint have been assuring me that WiMax (aka "4G") is real, and it is coming sooner than you might think.
As I've ranted about before, once we can get reliable IP access in the car (and to a lesser degree to our pocket) - the music consumption experience for the masses changes forever. Bye bye, XM/Sirus. Adios terrestrial radio. CDs, what the hell is a CD good for? The technological solution is virtually on top of us. The *real* challenge is the user experience - UI, personalization and discovery. Whoever gets those right - on mobile devices, PCs and car stereos - owns the layer between the consumer and the content. And, whoever owns that layer controls the advertising - and reaps the lion's share of the benefit.
Let the battle begin....