Is Microsoft Blocking MP3s From Verizon Wireless Phones?
from the antitrust-department-calling... dept
Yesterday we wrote about Verizon Wireless' overpriced, me-too music download offering that would let you transfer songs to your phone if you bought them online (for $1/song) or let you pay twice as much if you really, really, really needed the song immediately and wanted to download it directly to your phone over the air. That wasn't that surprising, as everyone had pretty much expected it. However, PCS Intel is claiming that signing up for this program on your phone might have some nasty side-effects that could interest some anti-trust lawyers. It's using Microsoft technology to handle copy protection, and apparently if you upgrade your phone to support Verizon Wireless' music store you will no longer be able to play MP3s on your phone. Basically, the new phone software proactively stops any attempts at playing MP3s -- which PCS Intel claims was part of the agreement Microsoft made with Verizon Wireless. If they were going to do this, then they wanted the phones to be exclusively set to play Microsoft's format. If true (and some additional support would be nice) that should set off quite a few anti-trust alarm bells somewhere. PCS Intel claims to have an internal memo from Verizon Wireless discussing this issue, and saying that should anyone complain, they're to be given a refurbished phone with older firmware, but that users are not to be warned ahead of time that an upgrade will wipe out their MP3-playing abilities. If this is true, it looks bad for both Verizon Wireless and Microsoft.