Sprint Nextel offers a music service that allows customers to wirelessly download songs to their cell phones.
The Sprint Music Store, announced Monday, will allow consumers to browse, preview and, for $2.50 each, download files from the Sprint inventory, which includes songs from EMI Music, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group. Although the cost per song is higher than Apple's rate, Sprint's store enables users to get a copy of each song they buy formatted for their phone and for their PC.
Consumers will also be able to burn their music to a disc using Windows Media Player and transfer music stored on their PCs to their phones.
Sprint Nextel customers, however, will need one of two new Sprint multimedia phones to access the service: the Sprint Power Vision Phone MM-9000, by Sanyo, with a 16MB memory card, or the MM-A940, by Samsung, with a 32MB memory card. The two phones can store roughly 16 and 32 songs, respectively. A 1GB memory card upgrade, available from the Sprint Store, can hold up to 1,000 songs.
The music store lets users browse, preview and buy digital music, while the phone allows users to search their music playlists by artist or genre.
"Sprint is the first carrier in the United States to deliver what customers want most in a wireless store, the instant gratification of downloading and owning their own personal collection of high-quality songs on a device that is always with them," Len Lauer, chief operating officer of Sprint parent company Sprint Nextel, said in a statement.
Sprint's service is intended to go head-to-head with iTunes, whose list of competitors has grown to include Napster's music rental service and Microsoft, which is planning a subscription music service.
Apple teamed up with Motorola to launch a cell phone, the Rokr, capable of storing 100 iTunes songs. That phone competes with Nokia's N91, Samsung's SGH i300 and Sony's WM800, all of which play downloadable music files.
While cellular carriers view music downloads as another good source of revenue, such services are not without challenges. Carriers now face demand for higher-capacity connections that can handle high-speed downloads on full-length songs and are beefing up their networks accordingly.