mmO2 announced that it is to trial the world's first 'music over mobile' service using existing mobile data (GPRS or 2.5G) networks. The O2 music service will enable customers to select, retrieve and store the latest chart hits via their GPRS-enabled mobile handset onto a specially designed 'digital music player' - and start listening in around 12 seconds.
The trials, starting in May in the UK and Germany are expected to lead to the launch of a commercial service later this year. mmO2 is partnered by global brand MTV and the largest music providers in the world, including BMG, who will provide track listings for new chart releases as well as pre-releases.
A customer simply plugs the digital music player into his/her handset, and selects the 'get new music' option to view a comprehensive menu of track listings and charts. During the trial, these charts will be provided by MTV and include the UK or German top 20, the European top 20, top 10 pre-releases, top 10 dance chart, top 10 Hip-Hop and R&B, top 10 rock, top 10 pop and top 10 chill-out.
The customer then selects a track and chooses either to hear a free 30-second clip or purchase the entire track. In either case, they can begin listening to the music of their choice in around 12 seconds. The digital music player offers excellent digital sound, similar to existing MP3 players.
Once the track has downloaded - which can take around 90 seconds for a full track - the digital music player can be unclipped from the mobile handset and used as a regular personal music device. Up to 100 tracks can be stored on the memory card for as long as they are required, and customers may choose to download the music files to a PC for additional storage. Customers can also purchase additional memory cards that are removable.
The trial digital music player, branded O2, is manufactured by a division of Siemens. Additional technology partners involved in the trial include Chaoticom (for music file compression capability and platform aggregation) and SDC (Secure Digital Container) AG (who provide security software to protect the music rights of owners and publishers).
Kent Thexton, chief marketing and data officer of mmO2, said: "We are leading the world with the O2 music over mobile trial. Customers researched were very enthusiastic about the service with 76 per cent of 16-24 year olds expressing a strong interest. It is also good news for record companies, who want to find new mass-market sales channels. The trial gives us the opportunity to listen to our customers and develop a service that they want; we will also be testing pricing strategies. We believe that this exciting application further strengthens our leading mobile data services portfolio."