As we decorated our Christmas tree and put another Christmas music CD on to listen, it occurred to me that MP3 players are getting so cheap that they could become task-specific.
For instance, pick up a 1GB model for $50, fill it up with Christmas music, plug it into the home stereo, and then press Play. When Christmas is over, pack the player away with the rest of the decorations for next year. No need to switch the CD every 35 minutes.
One gigabyte holds about 16 hours of music -- roughly 20 CDs (Christmas CDs tend to be shorter than regular music).
Take it a step further: ultra-cheap MP3 players could become like the CD shuttle devices. (About 15 years ago, Pioneer pioneered cartridges for CDs. Each cartridge held 6 CDs. The idea was that each cartridge would hold a group of music, like all Mozart piano concertos or New Age music. The flaw was that you could never tell which CDs were in the cartridge, because they had to be loaded upside down.)
Retailers could sell MP3 players pre-loaded with a variety of music genres -- kind of like greeting cards that now contain tinny music selections. The RIAA would pop an artery, but it could mesh in well with their master plan to pay artists less and less.
Book publishers have read books onto cassette tapes and CD. They could now put them onto read-only MP3 players. They could have color decals that identify the book, but would need an effective bookmarking system for chapters.
At home, we would have libraries of R/O MP3 players. Car stereos now have USB plugs, into which R/O MP3 devices could be plugged.
Genre-specific, pre-loaded MP3 players. My idea. I had it first. Contact me for royalty details before you launch them.
Canadian Tire has the first under-$50 (CDN) 1GB MP3 player advertised for its Boxing Week sale.