UK Mobile operator O2 are continuing to raise the bar for music distribution via mobile phones. Following successful trials (which I have written about previously in this web log “Music Goes Mobile”). Users of the service will be able to buy digital download tracks for about £1.50 and will be able to play them back on a dedicated device that will retail for about £100. The service will resemble Apple’s i-Tunes service in that it will allow users to sample 30 second of a track before deciding to purchase.
O2 have secured content from a wide range of partners and have also added MTV branded charts. O2’s service is undoubtedly one of the most significant European developments in the digital distribution of music via mobile phones, but its potential is inextricably dependent upon widespread uptake of the dedicated playback devices.
Nokia have taken a more mass-market approach by launching their flagship music phone the Nokia 3300. This device caters for the young music enthusiast and is packed full of features that establish it both as credible playback device (5 band EQ, USB porting, removable memory card) but also has features that distinguish it from dedicated playback devices, such as the ability to digitally record FM radio and real audio ring tones.
Nokia’s and O2’s solutions may be different parts of the same equation, but the fact that Nokia are getting involved in content, and the O2 are getting involved in devices shows that both parties are beginning to creep into each other’s traditional territories. Just how far this process will go remains to be seen