This week my Gramofon arrived. In case you don't know what a Gramofon is, it's the streaming connector and router from the team behind FON that lets you connect a speaker system and send your online audio to them much like AirPlay or Chromecast. But what FON is really doing is creating the connective tissue of the Internet one access point at a time that allows any FONERO (that's a user and ower of a FON device) to connect to another FONERO's FON or Gramofon for free. As an early backer of FON's Gramofon Kickstarter campaign, I was able to get mine before commercial release as campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo are becoming the way to find new, cool and cutting edge products that fit my digital lifestyle long before they end up at BestBuy or Amazon, which I posted about yesterday on LinkedIn.
For me, I've been a FONERO since the start, often frustrated at my inability to find FON hotspots that were really working, but the more I traveled to Europe the more I was finding FON's technology being deployed by the fixed line and wireless Internet providers making it easier to connect in more places. At the heart of the Gramofon is Qualcomm's Allplay, an OEM neutral set of chips that lets speakers and mobile devices that run iOS or Android connect.
What this all means is very simple to me. Today the Gramofon streams music. Next will likely come a VideoFon for streaming your favorite video network like Hulu and Netflix, but for now I'm able to stream services like WahWah and Spotify to my Gramofon and maybe one day, SiriusXM whose mix of DJ's on so many of their channels brings great tales about musical history from great story tellers like Andrew Loog Oldham and now Michael Des Barres on Steve Van Zandt's Underground Garage.
But what is really happening is a changing of the guard. In the old days Sony and Panasonic were the mass market music brands. Now it's an Apple or Android device that's the receiver that has replaced the radio or the Walkman the same way that Apple's iPhone and the plethora of Android devices have replaced the phones from Ericsson and Nokia.
The games are changing as are the players, and the Internet era has caused the disruption. Companies like FON are working with the mobile operators to bascially make them smarter pipes, but the smarts are coming from outside, not inside. And those transitions are better for all of us, as long as we stay net neutral.