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Verizon Moves More Multimedia to Phones

Verizon will soon launch V Cast Music, a new service that will enable wireless customers to download tunes to their mobile phones and PCs, the company said at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The V Cast service, which follows similar offerings from wireless rivals Cingular and Sprint, will provide over-the-air music downloads to phones or PCs that can be played with Microsoft Windows Media software, said Verizon.

The services highlight the wireless carriers’ recognition — thanks largely to Apple’s iPod and iTunes music and video service, as well as satellite subscriptions — that consumers will pay for mobile multimedia content.

“It makes sense that a cellular carrier would jump into this since Apple’s been successful at it,” DataComm President Ira Brodsky told TechNewsWorld. “Nothing says Apple is the only one who can receive the benefit [of the market].”

Mobile Music Phone

Verizon’s V Cast service, which becomes available beginning January 16, will allow customers to scan, preview, download and play digital music on their phones. Customers will pay about US$1 per song for the PC or $2 for download to a mobile phone, and will receive two copies of the music for both phones and Windows PCs, Verizon said.

“V Cast Music is the mobile music experience that consumers have been craving,” said Verizon president and CEO Denny Strigl.

The service will feature one million songs from major and independent labels by spring, and will be available on phones from LG, Samsung and others, according to the company.

Playing With Multimedia

There is likely to be a lot of business-model experimentation on multimedia from the major wireless providers, said DataComm President Ira Brodsky. Verizon’s over-the-air delivery approach is new; Sprint has partnered with the Dish Network, a satellite service provider; and Cingular has launched its own streaming music channels.

As to where all this could lead, “it’s heading, eventually as on-demand access, to your own music collection,” Brodsky said.

The pattern with mobile-phone features — such as caller ID, voicemail, text messaging and photography — has been standardization over time, he pointed out, despite resistance on the part of handset and wireless companies.

“It seems it’s just part of the competitive dynamic,” Brodsky said, predicting that all but low-end phones will have multimedia capabilities in the near future.

Doing It All

With V Cast, Verizon is making “the service as usable and affordable as the record companies will let them,” maintained Ovum vice president of wireless telecoms Roger Entner. The company is not likely reaping any profit from the service, he told TechNewsWorld.

However, multimedia on the go appeals to providers who wish to get users hooked and willing to pay for premium services, Brodsky argued.

There is also the desire to cut down on the number of devices users need to carry for their business and entertainment uses, Entner pointed out.

“What the carriers are really doing is trying to make the phone the device that does it all for you,” he said.

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