Business News Digital

Neil Young’s Pono planning move into high quality streaming

By | Published on Wednesday 14 December 2016


Neil Young has said that his Pono download platform is planning to relaunch as a high quality audio streaming service. Once again, getting in on the action in a super timely manner.

As I’m sure you’ll all remember, Young first announced his Pono digital music player back in 2013, launching it a year later and raising $6 million on Kickstarter. Specially designed not to comfortably fit into any pocket, the player offers the ability to play music at a quality beyond the range of human perception.

In order to pretend you could hear the difference between this and any other digital music player, you had to buy high quality digital albums from Pono’s own download store for two or three times the price of the same title on iTunes. All of this was powered by Omnifone, which went out of business earlier this year, suggesting that this wasn’t quite the cash cow Young had hoped. Omnifone’s downfall also took the Pono store offline.

But every disaster is an opportunity, so the Pono company is using this one as a chance to have a rethink. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Young now says that the company is “pushing towards getting a presence in phones”. This will require quite a lot of pushing – very few phones are currently equipped with the technology to play audio above CD quality, on account of that whole ‘human perception’ thing.

Young also says that Pono is working with a company in Singapore on technology to “maintain our quality level when we go to streaming”.

High quality streaming services already exist, of course. Tidal probably has the best known offering, while there’s also Deezer Elite, which is currently only available for Sonos customers. Largely these have shown that there’s not much of a market for more expensive, high quality streaming services. And they will presumably eventually be put out of business as all streaming services naturally improve sound quality. But I’m sure everyone at Pono has considered all that and come up with a great plan.