Nokia is to buy Loudeye, the US digital music company that owns On-Demand Distribution (OD2), the European music download supplier started by Peter Gabriel. The Finnish mobile phone giant is paying $60m in cash for the company.
Nokia described the deal as the foundation for its own music service with which it will target owners of its phones, in particular is N-series handsets. It said the service will go live next year and target Nokia handsets the way Apple’s iTunes Music Store targets iPods. You can tell that’s the model Nokia has in mind: it specifically described itself “the world’s largest manufacture of digital music players”.
Less robust are the chances for the Sony “mylo” which was announced yesterday. The mylo features Wi-Fi connectivity with three built in instant messaging services (Google, Skype, and Yahoo), Web browsing, and Skype VoIP service. Along the way:
While you chat or browse the Internet, the 1GB of the flash memory on the mylo personal communicator lets you enjoy your music too. It supports the playback of MP3, ATRAC® or WMA (secure and unsecure) files. The mylo communicator has a built-in speaker for listening to music so you can share your music with those around you. You can also view MPEG-4 personal videos by transferring files via USB cable or with Memory Stick Duo™ media. You can also store JPEG pictures from the Internet or your digital camera.
Providing networking possibilities without a wireless network, the mylo personal communicator detects when it comes into the presence of other mylo units. With the ad-hoc application, you can share play lists and stream music between mylo communicators one at a time.
Supposedly, you can add up to 4GB of Memory Stick storage, but it seems a little thin in that regard for a full fledged personal media player, although the networking feature seems to anticipate what Microsoft is planning for Zune. The mylo is USA only and the real target apparently is an instant messaging user in range of a Wi-Fi hotspot which would seem to be an odd demographic. Text messaging is much more popular overseas, but is cell phone based. There’s no word of a dedicated music download service, so I think we can chalk this up as another one of the odd generic players trying to get traction with novel features.
So what do these mean for Microsoft’s Zune? It means that Microsoft will have to work all that much harder to separate themselves from the crowded field of aspirants for the iPod’s throne.
Update 8/11: Concerning PlaysForSure licensee Nokia, Jupiter Research’s Michael Gartenberg asks “Is Plays for Sure Dead?“