Omnifone Announces MusicStation – Wireless Music Subscription Service In Europe
Omnifone has announced a new music service aimed at cell phone users who crave music while on the go, in the first of what is expected to be many challenges against Apple Inc.’s upcoming iPhone and its iTunes Store. Set to debut in Europe and Asia this year, Omnifone said it signed partnerships with 23 mobile network operators with a customer base of 690 million subscribers in 40 countries.
The British mobile music concern, founded in 2003, said its new MusicStation will be a subscription service that will let European users download new songs from dozens of major music labels for a weekly cost starting at £1.99 per week. The first major operators include Norway’s Telenor ASA and South Africa’s Vodacom, which is a partner with Britain’s Vodafone Group PLC.
Another four networks will launch in western Europe and in Asia and the Pacific between April and June, Omnifone said. The company said its service would be available in Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
Omnifone’s goal is to get the service to the majority of customers before the planned European introduction of the iPhone in November. The service works by letting users search, download and play music on their cell phones and sync it with their personal computer to create playlists that can be shared with other MusicStation users. A specific iPhone type of mobile device is not required, just a “music-oriented” cell.
Unlike the iPhone, Lewis said the service downloads music over the air across a data network, meaning users can have instant access to new music despite their location. He said the service was designed for 2.5- and third-generation networks, which are prevalent across Europe and Asia and expanding in North America.
The tracks will include digital rights management to limit unauthorized copying and be delivered in enhanced advanced audio coding format, or eAAC+. Songs will come from both major and independent labels, including Universal Music Group, as well as local artists in most areas. Songs downloaded through MusicStation, along with users’ playlists, are stored centrally, meaning that if a mobile phone is lost or stolen, the content is not and can be downloaded to a new phone.