Music Goes Mobile

It seems like both the music and mobile industries are beginning to get serious about mobile music. Motorola have signed a global deal with MTV and Sony Music Germany and Ericsson are building a mobile music service.

But the development that caught my eye was O2’s UK trial of a mobile music device and service that sends complete music files over GPRS networks. Tracks are transmitted in half mb ‘Microkosm’ files with 30kbps and should take less than 2 minutes to transmit. The files contain two types of DRM and are permanently downloaded onto and played back via a clip on walkman-like device.

What makes this service so interesting is that O2 seem to have developed a format that allows for enough compression to make files small enough to transmit quickly over wireless networks but also that retain reasonably high sound quality. Also, if the trial is successful, O2 are confident of getting the major record labels on board to license content for a full launch (currently BMG are providing content).

It is unrealistic to expect everyone to be using their phones as their key music device 5 years from now (whatever technology permits) but that is missing the point: one size does not fit all with mobile devices. The market is becoming increasingly fragmented with a multitude of different devices tailored to specific consumer segments. In this context mobile music devices and services have real potential among music fans and the success of ring tones hints at the huge potential for incremental revenues and marketing power.

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