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August 8, 2006

Nokia, Sony join the personal media player party

Posted by David Hunter at 10:15 AM ET.

I was only kidding a little bit last week when my reaction to Google’s declaration that they wouldn’t sell music was, “They seem to be the only ones.” Today, Nokia jumped in by buying Loudeye:

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”.

More details here and here, but you have to admit that Nokia has a nice foot in the door.

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?

Filed under Argo, Coopetition, Microsoft, Nokia, PlaysForSure, Skype, Sony, Technologies, Yahoo, Zune, eBay

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2 Responses to “Nokia, Sony join the personal media player party”

  1. Zune announcement afterthoughts -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] That’s putting it mildly. Zune’s rogue status has long been rumored, of course, and a number of partners have already left the foundering PlaysForSure ship or seem to be planning to and the latest is SanDisk (the number two player manufacturer) which just did a deal with RealNetworks to build their own closed ecosystem in competition with Apple and Microsoft. [...]

  2. Nokia signs up for Microsoft’s PlayReady DRM -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] Hmm, no word about the Zune which continues to have its own little DRM walled garden, but DRM 10 was marketed as the PlaysForSure program. I’m sure Nokia is aware of what happened to Microsoft’s erstwhile PlaysForSure partners since Nokia was one of them, but they likely don’t care since they aren’t betting the ranch on it, but merely adding support. If a proprietary Zune phone comes along, so be it, but in the meantime why not sell some music on whatever platforms are convenient?   Filed under Coopetition, Technologies, Windows Mobile, DRM, Windows Mobile 6, Nokia, Microsoft, Argo, Zune, PlayReady, PlaysForSure   [Permalink] [TrackBack] [...]

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