iPods disrupt another market

A friend is leaving for France next week with his family. They are doing the usual mix of Paris and Provence. He’s a fan of the Rick Steves‘ travel guides and TV series and has used his advice for many parts of the trip. One thing they are taking advantage of is a series of guides to places like the Louvre and Versailles that are available as a free download on the Rick Steves site. In other words you can download a podcast on to your iPod on all the places you think you may visit on your vacation and then simply call them up while you walk around the museum, castle or whatever it is you’re interested in. This saves potential expense, standing in line and you ending up with a handset trying to guide you in the wrong language (that happened to me when I was last in France – I got a guided tour of some Roman ruins in German. My German is non-exsitant).

Now of course it makes sense for a site like Rick Steves’ to offer these podcasts but I also wonder if it may also be worth Google and Microsoft adding these podcasts to their maps. So if you drill down on a map and see a museum, you could download the audio tour and perhaps even a video tour. Another idea would be for these museums or places of interest to offer a ‘pre tour’ introduction, giving you an idea of how long the tour will take, what you can expect to see, learn etc. It may include the items that would be of interest to young children or for that matter that would bore them. In other words it could guide you on how to get the most out of the… guide.

You may think this an obscure market and an obscure idea but given the popularity of the iPod and iPhone, I can see this changing the way we all enjoy and learn about our history. Imagine walking up to a Rodin sculpture at the Cantor Art Museum and being able to play a short video on your iPhone that shows you details you may have missed, gives you an insight into other pieces he created, or he may have taken from other artists etc. In short it gives us all the chance to learn and be entertained in a completely new way.

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One Comment on “iPods disrupt another market”

  1. Kelly McCarthy says:

    Not sure if you saw this article posted by the NYT last month (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/celebrities-offer-tour-of-central-park-by-cellphone/) – celebrities become your tour guides around Central Park.

    We used the Rick Steves guides on our Kindles when we were just in Europe, it was stunning how much lighter our suitcases were without 6 guide books.

    Having had the same snafus you describe, I can't imagine being able to walk around cities and museums around the world and having a wealth of knowledge about them at my fingertips. The institutions will be hesitant to give away a potential revenue channel but I'm sure that a solution that rewards the visitor and works for everyone else could be arranged with some creative thinking.


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