by Carlo Longino

Cingular To Announce Music Plans, But Skips OTA Downloads For Now

from the big-playback dept

Cingular is expected to this week announce its plans for music downloads, months after Sprint and Verizon launched their own music offerings. But there's a significant difference: Sprint and Verizon leapt right in with their own music stores, trying to squeeze premium prices out of users based on the ubiquity of mobile access. Cingular is instead partnering with Napster, Yahoo and eMusic to drive subscribers to their subscription services, where users can download tracks to their PC, then transfer them to their mobile handset for playback. While it lacks the buzz of mobile downloads, this strategy could prove smarter in the long run. The whole mobile-phone-vs.-iPod battle has been around for a while, and it seems inevitable that standalone music players will eventually be rendered irrelevant by mobile phones with music functionality. Such phones already outsell iPods and other MP3 players by a wide margin; the challenge for handset manufacturers and mobile operators is to get people to use them. This won't happen at first by trying to sell them overpriced downloads through the handset: Apple has continually ignored the calls for it to add some sort of similar functionality to the iPod, and it doesn't appear to be hurting sales too badly. And in any case, sideloading will be the source of the vast majority of mobile music for a long, long time -- again, the sideloading requirement doesn't hurt the iPod.

Many mobile operators position their music phones as little more than mobile storefronts for their overpriced and largely unattractive paid music offerings, not emphasizing, or even mentioning the devices' ability to play back music from other sources. This means the paid services make or break the whole idea of music on the handset: if a user's disappointed or turned off by them, they're not likely to use their handset for music at all. However, if operators emphasize sideloading, build awareness of the playback functionality of devices, and partner with familiar PC-based services -- as Cingular is doing -- then add in OTA downloads when more customers are aware and comfortable with using their phones as MP3 players, they stand a much better chance of success. Perhaps Cingular ought to have the person that came up with this plan speak to the geniuses considering putting ads into ringtones.

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  • identicon
    A Non-Mouse Cow Herd, 1 Nov 2006 @ 11:10am

    Of course.

    If they actually let people download songs over their data connection, then they would be setting their customers up for violations of the ToS, and they would have to kick them for downloading stuff they shouldn't have been.

    Not that I would ever want drm laden crap on my phone anyways.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    thereOttaBeAPatent, 1 Nov 2006 @ 11:35am

    Patent this now!!!!

    How many patents is Cingular going to step on doing this? I bet someone has already patented the idea of downloading music and moving it to a cell phone.

    Actually, what they probably patented was the idea of moving music between two electronic devices, just to make it as broad as possible.

    If there isn't already one (or five or ten) patents to cover what Cingular is doing, I bet Cingular has gone out and patented it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2006 @ 11:47am

    don't really understand the fuss. My phone takes a micro sd card. I load non DRM MP3s from my PC onto the card, put the card in the phone and I am all done.

    When I first got this phone I looked at the ringtones available through the phone's interface. $2.99 each. What a joke.

    A freeware app later and I simply select 30 second slices of my MP3s and upload them to the phone and now I have free ringtones.

    My carrier is Cingular. The owner's manual didn't explain how to do any of this or even mention that I could write MP3s directly to the card, but it works. I suppose this means one needs to be somewhat tech literate.

    Still, I don't understand why anyone would pay $2.99 for part of an MP3 via their cellphone. There are free sites that will do this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sanguine Dream, 1 Nov 2006 @ 1:11pm

    Free ring tones...

    I'm glad to own a phone that will allow me to make my own rigntones and upload them to my cell phone. The sound quality of those pre-made tones are not that great but are pretty pricey. $1.99 for a badly cropped 30sec. clip isn't my idea of a ringtone.

    And as for cell phones with mp3 players built-in they just aren't up to what I want these days so I'm just fine with two different devices. And given the quality of American cell phone services why are providers putting so much effort in data, music, internet and other services? I can see 20 years from now my phone will play video games that will exceed the console spec of the time, have internet that is faster than any satellite or landline, and play music that's better quality than a live show...but my call will still get dropped when I go into a tunnel.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sing Ya Larry, 1 Nov 2006 @ 2:20pm

    Cingular rocks. I'll be jumping on this bandwagon. Love my Sony Ericson Walkman phone from cingular. The big SUCK is that it has no simm card. WTF were they thinking? Still, the digital FM is awesome!

    Rock on Cingular!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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