Mobile operator Cingular Wireless is about to unveil its mobile music strategy, the details of which are expected tomorrow (Nov. 2).
Unlike competitors Sprint and Verizon Wireless, who have built their own branded a la carte wireless download services, Cingular is partnering with digital music services like eMusic, Napster and Yahoo Music to offer mobile access to their existing services.
At launch, this will include the ability to transfer (or sideload) tracks downloaded from subscription services to select mobile phones, essentially making them PlaysForSure compatible devices—an industry first. Other mobile operators allow the sideloading of unprotected MP3 tracks, Verizon allows the transfer of music purchased in Windows Media format, and Cingular in the past has enabled the sideloading of iTunes files to the Motorola ROKR phone.
But no mobile phone, until now, has been capable of playing music downloaded in portable subscription format.
The Cingular service initially will have no over-the-air downloading capability. Cingular is expected to add that functionality in the coming months, and is working individually with each digital music provider to add wireless extensions to their online services.
eMusic, Napster and Yahoo Music are the three services compatible with Cingular’s service at launch. They will allow subscribers to access their account, browse their respective music libraries and tag songs for download to their PC.
Napster has an added feature that allows Cingular users to identify songs with the operator’s MusicID service and then match it against Napster’s database to buy later.
Cingular also will become the second wireless operator to make XM Radio Mobile available to subscribers, following an initial launch by Alltel. The XM service provides 25 channels of commercial-free streaming music.
Additional details, including an exclusive interview with Cingular’s senior VP of consumer data products, will be posted online tomorrow and in next week’s print edition.