updated 09:10 am EST, Wed November 1, 2006
Cingular excludes Apple
Cingular is partnering with Napster and Yahoo to launch a new music service on its cellular network, catering to users with mobile phones that also offer music playback capability in a bold move to defy Apple's dominance as the leader of digital music downloads. Previous reports speculated that Cingular might partner with Apple as the Cupertino-based company's highly-anticipated 'iPhone' nears its rumored launch, backed by a trademark filing, various patents, and industry insider tips. Cingular's new service, which is expected to debut as early as tomorrow, will likely spoil any potential agreements between the mobile carrier and the iPod-maker. Cingular in September of 2005 expressed desire to work with Apple to create a music service that would allow users to download songs to their mobile phones, but said it hoped for "slightly higher" pricing on tracks than the iTunes Music Store.
Cingular last year also became the exclusive provider of the Motorola ROKR phone, integrating Apple's iTunes mobile software to play audio tracks purchased from the iTunes Music Store. The ROKR was dubbed a flop, however, and the disappointment led to an overhaul of the ROKR phone followed by Motorola's complete severance from Apple as the company took on iTunes in early January with its next-generation ROKR E2 phone, which uses its own digital radio service to play music rather than iTunes software.
Cingular's new service will initially support transferring music from computers to cellular phones using a cable, offering support for tracks downloaded from Napster to Go, as well as Yahoo's Y Music Unlimited and eMusic services. The new service also supports transferring tracks ripped from CDs, MP3s, and Windows Media files, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Cingular also plans to add an over-the-air downloading option next year that will take users to a virtual store via compatible telephone headsets, similar to those already used for ringtone sales.