Sprint users will be able to download songs onto their cell phones wirelessly, choosing from a library of songs -- hundreds of thousands of them, according to news reports. They will be able to store 1,000 songs on their phones, which of course put to shame musical phones such as Motorola's
There are some catches, though. For example, only Sprint users with two new multimedia phones -- the Sprint Power Vision Phone MM-9000 from Sanyo and the MM-A940 from Samsung -- have this capability, and even they will have to get a 1-GB memory card upgrade in order to store 1,000 songs in the first place.
Once they get past that hurdle, though, there's the fact that Sprint will sell single songs for $2.50 a pop. It's a price that sounds outlandish compared with the $0.99-per-tune price available through iTunes. For $2.50, the users gain a song that can be played on their mobile phone and copied to their computer, but that doesn't seem a strong argument for the higher price tag. iTunes allows for backup copies of people's music for $0.99 -- after all, the music is originally saved to one's computer in the first place.
It's true, the time is ripe for cell phone providers to begin offering compelling musical offerings if they are going to break into the area. However, so far it seems that the attempts have been too lackluster to shake Apple's dominance.
Back in the spring, I commented on reports from CNET that recording industry executives were discontented with Apple's pricing through iTunes and hoped to gain more pricing power in deals with cell phone providers. At that time, I theorized that any "sensitivity" to recording industry executives' concerns on pricing might run the risk of stunting growth in cellular musical downloads. Today's news out of Sprint could very well bear out that idea -- it seems to me that the high price of the tunes won't prove very compelling to most customers.
- Sprint recently provided more channels for mobile radio.
- Music has transmitted some mixed messages.
- Last spring, I wondered who was out of iTune.
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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.