I think I am seeing a new trend. I am so slow that when I see a new trend, it is probably well underway and everyone else knows about it, but I'll tell you about it anyway.
The trend I'm talking about is this: listening to music with headphones is going out of style.
Data point 1: About a year ago I started paying attention to the way kids seemed to play music off their phone speakers. I see this on the train during my commute and on the streets.
Data point 2: In the spring Veera got an iPod Shuffle as birthday present. In June she got a new phone capable of playing mp3 files and she immediately abandoned the iPod. She exchanges mp3 files with her friends over bluetooth and plays the music over the phone speaker because that way all the friends can enjoy the music.
Data point 3: Today I read in the paper McDonalds is recalling toys they gave away with kid's meals in Sweden. The toy was a thing that played pre-installed music from a little speaker at 110 db! It even comes with a warning not to put the toy close to ears because of hearing damage.
I think listening to music with headphones is something for us, the older generation. We are busy, we travel/commute, often alone and we do not want to disturb others with our music/podcasts/audiobooks.
It seems to be different for the younger generation: When they hang out with friends, it would be rude to listen to music just by yourself. It is much nicer to share it with your friends. And when you're alone, even then it makes sense to listen to music from the phone speaker at full blast because it makes a statement: It tells everyone around you who you are, what you like and that you're so cool you don't give a damn about the dinosaurs shooting disapproving glances at you.
Of course the sound quality of the phone speaker is bad or very bad. For some reason this does not seem to be so important for the kids. Perhaps the reasons stated above outweigh the poor sound quality.
I can't say I like the way things are going but smart companies like Apple have already recognized this trend and taken advantage of it: This week Apple announced the new iPod Touch that can play music from a speaker.
The world has become a noisier place and there's nothing we can do about it until the kids of today become middle-aged old farts who long for peace and quiet.
Data point 4: Today (Sep 4) YLE1 showed documentary called Ponitytöt, where the camera followed a group of 13-15 year old girls who ride and take care of horses. At the end of the film the girls are in a bus, drinking beer and listening to rap music from a mobile phone speaker.