Sprint Nextel Corp. plans to boost its mobile music business this year with a new subscription scheme for downloading songs onto cellphones, and expand its partnership with Sirius Satellite Radio Inc., a top executive said on Tuesday (March 28).
As the price of making cellular calls declines, U.S. wireless carriers are adding music and video download services, aiming to boost revenue by convincing customers to use their cellphones for more than just talking.
Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. wireless service, was the first U.S. operator to start a wireless song download service in October. Advanced services such as music, text messaging, games and video represent about 10 percent of Sprint’s revenue.
Larger rival Verizon Wireless, a venture between Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group Plc, followed suit with a competing service in January.
Sprint is now looking for new ways to increase demand. For example, heavier users may prefer to pay a monthly subscription rather than a one-time fee of $2.50 to download each song from a virtual store under its current service.
“We think it would open up more demand,” Sprint Chief Operating Officer Len Lauer said in an interview on the sidelines of the World Congress of Sports conference.
He said the company was still working out details such as how much a subscription would cost.
Sprint already offers a subscription service that allows users to get about 20 radio channels from Sirius on their cellphones. It is also looking to give customers the option of buying songs that they hear on the satellite radio channels later this year, Lauer said.
“We’d like to have the capability later this year that the customer listens to a song and says, ‘I want to buy that song,”‘ he told the audience during his keynote speech at the conference.
Sprint said in February that it sold a million songs in the first three months or so of setting up its mobile music store.
In comparison Apple Computer Inc.’s iTunes store, which along with the iPod portable music player helped popularize digital music, sold 1 million songs in its first week. It charges 99 cents a song.