Behind Cingular's music strategy
Cingular's new music service partners with Napster to deliver music to its phones
Cingular Wireless finally jumped on the music train today with its launch of Cingular Music, a music subscription application that partners with several popular online services, including Napster. Cingular is the largest U.S. wireless carrier, but it has lagged behind
Instead of operating its own store, as Sprint and Verizon do, Cingular hopes it set itself apart by partnering with independent music services such as
Cingular Music's pricing scheme is another clear differentiator, and I suspect it may be the juice that Cingular needs to lap its competitors. If using Napster, Cingular Music subscribers pay the normal Napster To Go subscription fee of $14.95 per month, allowing them to download songs to their PC and transfer the songs to their phone using a cable. From their phones, subscribers also can access a new service called Napster Mobile, which would allow them to preview and purchase tracks. Songs cost just $0.99, far cheaper than Sprint's maximum fee of $2.50 per track and Verizon's charge of $1.99. Of course, there is a big catch, at least for the moment.
Songs purchased from your phone will download only to your PC and can later be transferred to the phone. Yes, that's kind of ridiculous, but we expect Cingular to activate mobile downloads in the near future, however. A Yahoo Music subscription costs $11.99 per month but with no additional mobile download fees, while eMusic offers specialized content for Sony Ericsson Walkman phones, including the
Cingular Music will offer access to 25 XM Satellite radio channels for $8.99 per month and a song ID service for subscribers' phones.
As part of the announcement, Cingular unveiled a new handset, the Cingular Sync. Also known as the
Overall, Cingular Music looks quite promising, and I think it's a bold and welcome move after Cingular's previous decision to partner with Apple to provide iTunes support for the much-hyped but poorly-received