Napster has extended its US music download store and subscription service to Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition-based Smartphones.
Right now, that means the AT&T Wireless' Audiovox SMT5600 handset, though there's no reason why its Windows Media Player 10 plug-in shouldn't run on Motorola's MPx220 provided that ships with WMP10.
The Audiovox handset is HTC's 'Typhoon', better known in Europe as the Orange SPV-C500, in Australia as the i-Mate Smartphone 3, in New Zealand as the Qtek 8020 and in China as the Dopod 565.
In its AT&T Wireless incarnation, the handset can access Napster's US-only Napster To Go $15-a-month subscription service, which is based on Windows Media 10 DRM technology, aka 'Janus'. Phone owners can also download individual tracks to their handset.
The SMT5600 ships with 28.5MB of Flash memory, enough for up to six 128Kbps songs, Napster said. The handset can use Mini SD cards, allowing a further 512MB of memory to be added.
The move is a sign of the music download industry's increasing interest in mobile phones. Last summer, Apple said it will develop a version of its iTunes jukebox software for Motorola handsets, and digital music distributor Loudeye announced a partnership with Nokia to promote its service to network operators keen to move into the digital music market.
AT&T Wireless already has such a service, of course, so you might think it woouldn't be best pleased to see Napster muscling in on it. Not so, since the revenues it will gain from the GPRS packets needed to download all those songs are very welcome indeed.
Napster may be touting straight-to-phone downloads, but browsing for music on a mobile phone isn't as easy as doing so on a desktop, and for now we reckon more music is going to get onto mobile phones via desktop machines, transmitted by Bluetooth, sent over a USB 2.0 or copied straight to the memory card. And most of it, of course, will be in MP3 format, not WMA.
Indeed, even AT&T's own service, the mMode Music Store, is designed to allow users to buy by mobile but download to a PC. Content comes courtesy of Loudeye. ®
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