British mobile operator O2 launched 'O2 Music', Europe's first mobile 'over the air' music download service. It enables customers to select, download and store the latest chart hits and popular music via their mobile handset onto a specially designed 'O2 Digital Music Player' (O2 DMP) and start listening in around 30 seconds. O2 has partnered with MTV and some of the largest music providers in the world, including BMG, Universal, AIM (Independent record labels) and Warner Music International. O2 Music is available in the UK and will roll-out in Germany and Ireland during 2004.
This is the evolution of the product originally announced back in March 2003. Trials started in May 2003, involving 300 customers in the UK and Germany. Trialists downloaded an average of five tracks per user per week and 90% of the trial base used the service regularly. The most popular genres, in both UK and Germany, were pop, European pop, dance and hip hop. Avril Lavigne topped the chart, whilst other favourites included Evanescence, B2k and Busta Rhymes.
O2 Music offers the very latest music, updated weekly, with prices averaging £1.50 per track. The music covers current and past popular tracks from a selection of genres, including 'dance', 'pop' and 'chill-out'. Customers can browse by genre, artist or track or select from any of the top charts, including: the UK top 10, the European top 20 MTV Hits top 10, MTV Dance top 10, MTV Base top 10 (Hip Hop, R&B, Urban Chart), MTV2 top 10 (Rock), chill-out top 10.
O2 expects to increase its catalogue to more than 100,000 during the course of next year.
To use O2 Music the user simply connects the O2 DMP to his/her mobile handset via infrared (or using a short cable - but where's Bluetooth?), and selects 'get new music' on the O2 DMP screen. The menu then provides a comprehensive list of charts or genres. Customers can then select the track they want, searching by genre, artist, track or chart and choose between hearing a 30-second preview clip and purchasing the entire track. The preview clip is free of charge and takes around 20 seconds to begin streaming. The entire track takes an average of 3.5 minutes to download, although thanks to the aacPlus compression technology, the customer can start listening in around 30 seconds, in high quality sound.
Once the track has downloaded, the O2 DMP can be used independently as a 'conventional' personal music device, enabling customers to listen to their stored tracks wherever, whenever they want. The removable SD 64MB memory card can store up to 64 full tracks; additional cards can be purchased for further storage capacity. Customers can also transfer their music files to a PC for additional storage. The O2 DMP is also able to play the user's other music in aacPlus and MP3 formats.
O2 Music works with a broad range of infrared-enabled handsets including the Nokia 7210, 7250i, 8310, 6310i, 6610, 5100 and 3650; Samsung V200 and P400; SonyEricsson T610; and Siemens SL55 and S55. The Siemens C60, MC60 and M55 work with a data cable. This range of handsets means that at launch, more than 1.2 million O2 customers can already access this service. Increasingly, all handsets will have infrared capability, making this an offering that can appeal to a huge audience.
The O2 digital music player is priced at £99.99 until 31 December 2003.
The O2 Digital Music Player (O2 DMP) is manufactured by a division of Siemens. Content aggregation and platform hosting is provided by Siemens, using SDC (Secure Digital Container) AG security software 'SDC Java DRM' to protect the rights of music owners and publishers and DWS ADO2RA content download platform from Digital World Services. The music format is aacPlus, provided by Coding Technologies GmbH. It is standard MPEG-4 aacPlus version i.e. MPEG-4 AAC with MPEG-4 bandwidth extension.