updated 03:45 pm EST, Fri January 6, 2006
Verizon sells mobile music
Verizon Wireless has announced that it will offer a , dubbed "V Cast Music," allowing subscribers to download songs directly to their phones for $1.99 each. The move stands to threaten Apple's iTunes Music Store which sells music online for 99-cents per track, but cannot stream the songs over-the-air to mobile handsets. The new service--set to launch on January 16th--will be powered by Microsoft technology and give cell phone users the ability to build a music library on their phone without the need for a personal computer, according to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle.
"We believe this is a game-changer," Verizon COO Lowell McAdam said. "To have one device that does music and all the other things you can do on a cell phone today, that's big."
Songs downloaded to phones include a second copy for the customer's computer, and songs can be downloaded for the PC exclusively for 99-cents each, matching Apple's iTunes Music Store pricing.
Subscribers will need to either sign up for Verizon's $15-per-month V Cast service--offering unlimited downloads, internet access, and multimedia content--or pay the carrier's individual data download fees in addition to paying for downloaded music. The service currently boasts over 500,000 songs, and will offer one million tracks in several weeks.
Customers must also purchase a $30 starter kit, as well as a removable memory card costing from $40 for a 256KB card to $110 for a 1GB version. Cards with 2GB capacities are expected to be unveiled next month.
Sprint and Amp'd recently launched similar services, streaming songs to users phones for $2.50 and 99-cents each, respectively.
Verizon has taken steps that it believes will ensure its new service is competitive, undercutting Sprint's hefty $2.50 price tag and allowing users to turn their purchased songs into ring tones and ring backs.
The mobile music business is expected to grow at a rapid pace, but Analyst Albert Lin wondered how successful over-the-air downloads will be if they are priced at twice the cost of PC downloads. The analyst said that in most cases, users will likely avoid the higher-priced alternative and download straight to their computer, or transfer songs from their CD collection to their phones, according to the report.
"The industry hopes that for some reason the 99-cents-per-song price would move to something higher in the mobile world. But you're almost forcing people to buy songs on their PC or rip it from a CD and then synchronize it to their device. That's what people already do on their iPod," Lin said.