Vodafone launches full music service
Telco giant Vodafone has extended its range of entertainment products with a new online music service offering 600,000 songs for download.
Although the company already had an online music store, songs were only transferred to Vodafone customers' 3G mobile phones; the new service is a step forward in that while users still purchase songs for their phones, they also receive a (DRM protected) WMA music file, which is delivered to their computer, at no extra cost. And unlike Vodafone's previous music download effort, songs cost a pretty reasonable $1.99 each, compared with the vastly overpriced $3.50 of yore.
Another advantage of the new service is that Vodafone's customers won't actually have to own a 3G phone. Although anyone who wants to listen to the music on their cellphone will require a 3G model, those without these phones can still play the song on their computers.
However, according to the Vodafone Music Store FAQ you'll need Windows 2000+ and IE 6.0+ to use the site, so it appears Firefox and Linux users may have difficulties.
We had a look at the store and found it reasonably comprehensive, if not as user-friendly as rival sites such as Digirama - music wasn't particularly well categorised and pages were very slow to load, for example. We were nevertheless impressed to find a number of tunes unavailable on any of the other legal New Zealand download sites.
And speaking of rival sites, it's unclear how the Vodafone store will affect the company's relationship with Satellite Media. Satellite was heavily involved in Vodafone's original music store, but also runs the Coketunes website. According to a Vodafone spokesperson, "It's Vodafone's policy not to comment on the details of commercial agreements and we do continue to enjoy a working relationship with Satellite." Hmm.
Vodafone enters the market at an interesting time. Not only are there established players such as Coketunes, Digirama and the kiwi music-based Amplifier, but with Microsoft's Zune player and accompanying music service due in the new year, and rumours that Apple will finally open an iTunes Music Store here any day now, it looks like there will soon be an awful lot of competition for your music download dollar.
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