The service, dubbed Transfer2Device, is the latest attempt by online music companies to let people listen to songs away from their PCs--a key ingredient for growth, analysts say. Financial services company Credit Suisse First Boston said it expects the market for portable MP3 players to grow from 1.9 million units sold in the United States in 2000 to 10 million units in 2003.
Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Heath Terry said MP3.com's new service could help it make headway in the portable player market, but he pointed to some hurdles.
"Portability is going to be critical for this space to continue to grow," Terry said. "The real important thing for MP3.com is going to be when they can use the licensed music that they have from the major record labels to get that content to a portable device."
MP3.com touts its service as a simple, one-click installation process that allows people to transfer music from its artist pages to portable devices. It said that depending on the connection speed, music could be downloaded in about 5 seconds to 10 seconds--a significantly shorter time than MP3.com's previous process, which required an individual to download music onto a PC and then transfer it to the portable device.
"Portable MP3 players are like CD players in your car: It's too much of a hassle to change your selection, so you end up listening to the same music all the time," MP3.com Chief Executive Michael Robertson said in a statement. "We launched Transfer2Device to change that by creating a simplified and easy process to select songs from our vast library and zap them to your portable device with minimum hassle."