updated 11:15 am EDT, Thu June 14, 2007
Omnifone MusicStation Live
Omnifone today announced that its new mobile music service MusicStation service is now live, representing one of the first unlimited online music stores available through cellphones. As the company first revealed in its 3GSM unveiling, the now active service directly challenges both the iPhone and its iTunes Store companion by offering a universal player and a flat-rate store. Its software layers runs on top of virtually any music phone and bases its entire structure on an unlimited weekly subscription model. The approach allows any music phone to keep relevant music in rotation as long as the device is within coverage of an EDGE (2.5G) or HSDPA (3G) mobile Internet connection, according to the company: as many phones don't have enough storage to hold the user's entire library, the service will automatically cache as many favorites as possible and download the next track in sequence to effectively produce an unlimited library which still holds music when the phone wanders outside of service.
Also part of the finished product is the social element. Subscribers can maintain friends and share song or playlist recommendations between each other. Omnifone notes that it will also have a dynamic suggestion system that offers new music as well as concert listings depending on track history.
MusicStation has signed all four major labels to its service due in part to copy protection. All downloaded tracks are stored in a protected version of the mobile-friendly eAAC format that prevents unwanted copies and also expires when the subscription runs out; service is currently limited to phones only but will include a computer-based client in the near future, according to the company.
Service begins today in Sweden through local carrier Telenor, who will charge 25 Kronor ($3.50 US) weekly for the service, which is free of data charges. A European release is still planned for the summer at 3 Euros ($4) with the same terms.
The service has already drawn attention for its consciously anti-Apple marketing, which positions MusicStation as an early and more flexible alternative to the Apple device due in Europe late this year. The iPhone is so far known only to accept purchased music from the iTunes Store or unprotected services and requires that music first be copied over from a computer, preventing mobile downloads.