Omnifone to challenge Apple’s iPhone, iTunes Store

“Omnifone, a British mobile music company, is unveiling a new music service Monday aimed at cell phone users who crave music while on the go, in the first of what is expected to be many challenges against Apple Inc.’s upcoming iPhone and its ubiquitous iTunes Store,” Matt Moore reports for The Associated Press.

Moore reports, “The London-based company, founded in 2003, said its new MusicStation will be an ‘all you can eat’ service that will let users – in Europe first, but with plans to expand elsewhere – download new songs from dozens of major music labels for a weekly cost starting at 1.99 pounds, or about $3.88, per week.”

“Set to debut in Europe and Asia this year, Omnifone said it signed partnerships with 23 mobile network operators with a customer base of 690 million subscribers in 40 countries,” Moore reports. “The first major operators include Norway’s Telenor ASA and South Africa’s Vodacom, which is a partner with Britain’s Vodafone Group PLC.”

“Omnifone Chief Executive Rob Lewis said the aim is to get the service to customers before the planned European introduction of the iPhone in November. ‘We will ensure the vast majority of Europeans have the freedom to choose MusicStation by the time iPhone arrives in Europe. We will give consumers the choice they deserve,’ he said… Unlike the iPhone, Lewis said the service downloads music over the air across a data network, meaning users can have instant access to new music despite their location. He said the service was designed for 2.5- and third-generation networks, which are prevalent across Europe and Asia and expanding in North America. ‘By leveraging the hundreds of millions of handsets sold every year by operators to deliver MusicStation into the global market, we believe we can give Apple a run for its money in digital music provision.'”

Full article here.

According to Omnifone, “MusicStation provides a complete music experience, enabling users to search for music, download and play music on their mobile, Mac/PC, create, manage and share playlists and tracks with the MusicStation community, and view the latest music news. Delivering tracks in Enhanced Advanced Audio Coding format (eAAC+), Omnifone’s new service also supports industry-strength DRM. Omnifone believes MusicStation can significantly enhance digital music revenues for partner MNOs, the music labels and the collection societies.”

“Subscribers will pay a small weekly fee to access a comprehensive global catalogue of music drawn from all the major labels and independents. Pricing in the UK is £1.99 per week for unlimited downloads including data with European pricing set at 2.99 Euros per week. A premium service will offer unlimited music downloads to a subscriber’s mobile and Mac/PC desktop for £2.99 per week in the UK and 3.99 Euros per week across the rest of Europe. All charges are inclusive of 2.5G or 3G data.”

Omnifone’s press release also states, “Robin Bloor, Partner at Hurwitz & Associates, Founder of Bloor Research, and also Co-Author ‘Service Oriented Architecture for Dummies’ stated, after reviewing the MusicStation product, ‘Omnifone has a great opportunity, partly because Apple is doing exclusive deals with carriers and leaving others out in the cold. Apple isn’t willing to share its iTunes revenue with the carriers and Apple has only one expensive device that is highly priced. Naturally Apple will take some share of the market, but even in its wildest dreams it won’t get close to 5 percent. Omnifone is providing a music playing capability that many carriers are going to find very useful, maybe even necessary, if they wish to compete with Apple and stay centre stage for content, rather than become purely dependent on price sensitive services such as traditional voice and text.'”

Omniphone’s press release:
You know this will be huge because music subscription outfits have proven to be so incredibly popular as people obviously prefer to rent their music rather than own it.

Related articles:
Beleaguered Napster hires UBS to evaluate possible company sale – September 18, 2006
Beleaguered Napster circles bowl, subscribers drop 7 percent, Gorog won’t rule out sale of company – August 03, 2006
Free, legal and ignored: Mac- and iPod-incompatible beleaguered Napster dying at colleges – July 06, 2006
Napster does the math: layoffs commence with 10-percent of workforce lopped off – January 25, 2006
EMI Music Chairman: Music subscription services like Napster and Rhapsody haven’t beeen huge – January 23, 2006
Report: Napster executives do the math, consider selling or shutting down, layoffs imminent – January 16, 2006
Do the math: Napster posts $13.6 million second-quarter loss – November 02, 2005
Napster: the only thing missing is the sock puppet – August 04, 2005
Napster, other Windows Media-based music services ‘chasing a niche opportunity’ – June 29, 2005
SmartMoney: Napster is a snooze, gushing money and renting music is un-American anyway – July 06, 2005
Napster To Go Soon? Reports $24.3 million net loss on $17.4 million net revenue – May 11, 2005
Napster is a joke – April 05, 2005
Users thwart Napster To Go’s copy protection; do the music labels realize the piracy potential? – February 15, 2005
Why ‘Napster To Go’ will flop – February 03, 2005
The de facto standard for legal digital online music files: Apple’s protected MPEG-4 Audio (.m4p) – December 15, 2004
Napster 2.0 posts US$15 million relaunch loss – February 08, 2004


  1. The only way I see subscriptions being popular is in conjunction with a decent sales based service. There is certain stuff that I want to own and other stuff which i’m willing to pay a reasonable price to be able to effectively try in full and then dispose of if I don’t like it. I don’t claim to be able to justify any economics but that’s not exactly the point since there have been so many price points so far that it seems music companies will try anything in that regard. What will never work for me is some sort of all in approach that seems to assume I will get all my music via subscription and then pay for it each month for eternity.

    Netflix et al work because they allow you to pay reasonable prices to be able to view stuff you wouldn’t normally buy at a rate that suits you. If you feel you aren’t justifying the price you stop and are no worse off. Music needs to be more like this.

  2. interesting quote from our old buddie Rob Enderle :

    “….”I’m expecting that in the next weeks Apple will really go after Vista,” said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group. “For people having problems with Vista, they’ll say, ‘Hey, we’ve got a better choice. As long as you’re upgrading, why not upgrade to a Mac?’ ”

    Has Rob FINALLY seen the light ???

    uhhhh … nah !!

    oh… I found the quote HERE

    MW= “problems” ,,, really ! .. Im not kidding !

  3. Brace yourselves for the onslaught of iPhone killers coming to a theater near you! I saw on the news this morning that RIM is coming out with a new Crackberry that will feature…video. This iwas, according to the reporter, a direct challenge to the iPhone.

    June better get here fast.

  4. Use this, and one day you too can have YOUR music collection vanish

    …poof just like that!

    “Hold on a minute. I’ve paid for that over the last five years (£500 or $1,000). Don’t I have rights?”

    “Nope. Bugger off.”

    A really useful way to build up your music over the years hey?

  5. At least they offer it to Mac users. We’ll see if that helps ’em much.

    Renting tunes at four bucks a week adds up mighty fast. Twice as fast as .Mac ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”shut eye” style=”border:0;” />

    Pardon me while I leave my glass house and grab some more throwin’ stones.

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