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According to sources familiar with the situation, Cingular will begin partnerships with Napster and
Yahoo to offer a new music service for its cellphone network.
Basically, the service would be available for certain cellphones that
double as music players. Interesting move, considering consumers have
expressed disinterest in complicated cellphone combo packages (see Cellphone Start-Ups Struggle; Consumers Use Phones Only As Phones).
Cingular’s move, which is scheduled to be announced as early as
tomorrow, is speculated as being “the latest sign that cellphones are morphing into
entertainment devices that can play music and download songs off the
Internet.” The main target is consumers of the extremely popular Apple iPod. Apple itself is rumored to be
working on a combination music player and cellphone.
Users of Cingular’s service will be able to transfer
music from their personal computers to their cellphones using a cable. The real news is that this will be the first time users can transfer music downloaded from subscription-based services like Napster to
Go, Yahoo’s Y Music Unlimited or eMusic.
The phones will also accept songs ripped from
CDs or downloaded in MP3 or Windows Media formats. Another service included will be a feature called “Music ID.” After a user holds his/her phone up to a speaker playing a song, it will match the song against Napster’s database and, if the song
is available, give the user the option of purchasing the song via the cellphone. The idea is that the song will be loaded onto the phone after it is first sent to the user’s computer.