Dell MP3 bundles sound pretty smart

PC maker begins offering bundles of songs preloaded on new computers. It's an odd move at first glance, but it actually makes sense, when you dig into the playlists a bit.

Matt Rosoff
Matt Rosoff is an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, where he covers Microsoft's consumer products and corporate news. He's written about the technology industry since 1995, and reviewed the first Rio MP3 player for CNET.com in 1998. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network. Disclosure. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattrosoff.
Matt Rosoff
2 min read

Dell on Wednesday began offering bundles of songs on new computers ordered through its Web site.

Just like you can add a copy of Microsoft Office or an extra hard drive, you can pick a bundle of 50 MP3 files for an extra $25 or 100 MP3s for an extra $45--that's about half the price of most download stores. The deal's limited to songs owned by Universal Music Group, one of the big four record labels.

"And if you hear me talking on the wind, you've got to understand we must remain...perfect strangers." Dell

When I first read about this, it seemed an afterthought for newbies too clueless to know how to rip CDs to their hard drive. But after taking a look through the playlists, it made a little more sense: these are genre-specific samplers or one-hit wonders. In other words, the kinds of songs that people might enjoy having on their MP3 player but aren't worth buying a full album to get.

For instance, as a classic-rock kid from the '80s, there are times I might enjoy hearing "Funk #49," "Maggie May," or "One Thing Leads To Another" (in fact, I've owned LPs with all of those songs at one time), but I wouldn't pay a buck to download them. But there they both are on the "Rock Titans" bundle, along with a few other ex-radio songs that get stuck in my head occasionally, as well as some trash I'd delete immediately.

So basically, Dell and Universal are charging $25 to save you the trouble of going to an online music store like Amazon.com or iTunes, and downloading a bunch of individual tunes. The idea would work better if it dug deeper into particular genres--the Blues Masters collection is great for casual blues fans, but what about Madchester flashback or old school?