BBC incorrectly reports Omnifone music subscription price (plus: why the phone networks are suckers)

“Omnifone, a London-based company which has been working secretly on a music service for the last four years, has come to Barcelona to launch Music Station,” Rory Cellan-Jones reports for BBC News. “It is a subscription service offering users unlimited access to a huge catalogue to download to their phones for £1.99 a month. It is attractive to the networks because it allows them to keep control of their music business rather than simply hand it over to Apple.”

MacDailyNews Take: Whatever they’re smoking lately over at the Beeb, it certainly guarantees mistakes that, for some strange reason, never seem to come out in Apple’s favor. Omnifone’s subscription service will be £1.99 (US$3.87) per week, not month. So, it actually costs £8.62 (US$16.79) per month on average. In other words, Omnifone is US$6.84, or 69%, more per month than the beleaguered Napster subscription service currently charges (US$9.95/month). The mobile phone networks are suckers because they, like every iTunes Store victim on the planet, want to control the customer instead of giving customers the control they want — even to the point of buying into this repackaged, over-priced, proven failure that’s called “Omnifone” this time instead of “Napster.” People want to own their music, not rent it. Apple gives customers what they want while other outfits want so badly to reap a weekly/monthly payment ad infinitum that they keep trying to ignore reality. The mobile phone companies are deluding themselves with visions of recurring weekly charges that simply aren’t going to exist in worthwhile numbers.

Cellan-Jones continues, “It looks as though the iPhone will not accept downloads, with users having to transfer their music from their computers. Rob Lewis, Omnifone chief executive, said customers would now have a choice: ‘They can buy an expensive device from Apple – or use our service on just about any of the world’s handsets and get their music wherever they want it.’ …Omnifone has said it has signed partnerships with 23 mobile network operators…”

MacDailyNews Take: Sheesh. That’s the same old subscription music sales pitch that nobody bought the first how-ever-many-times countless also-ran outfits tried it, except now it costs even more!

Cellan-Jones continues, “But one word of caution. A subscription service does not give you ownership of any music – stop paying, and it disappears. In the past that’s made similar services on PCs and for portable devices much less attractive than Apple’s iTunes. Barcelona will see plenty of glitzy launches and extravagant claims about compelling new mobile services. None will generate quite the buzz which surrounded the iPhone launch but companies here are confident that their phones will sell better and prove more profitable than Apple’s device.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: All of these music subscription peddlers (just like the would-be “iPod Killers”) were confident before launch. Now they’re either dead, calling people stupid or worse for not buying into neverending subscriptions, or looking for some other suckers to buy their struggling companies because people don’t want what they’re trying to sell no matter how badly they dream of selling it.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “nerdbrain” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Omnifone to challenge Apple’s iPhone, iTunes Store – February 12, 2007
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

BBC, others scared as Apple preps launch of iTunes TV and movie sales in Europe? – February 12, 2007
BBC columnist doesn’t believe Steve Jobs’ Apple would stop using DRM if music labels would allow it – February 12, 2007
BBC integrity questioned, accused of promoting Microsoft and Windows Vista – February 09, 2007
BBC revises article, clarifies where music downloaded from the iTunes store can be played – February 08, 2007
BBC reporter blows it, says ‘music downloaded from the iTunes store can be played only on iPods’ – February 07, 2007
Ask the BBC make upcoming iPlayer on-demand service Mac compatible – February 01, 2007
Report: Europe gets iTunes TV and movie sales this spring – January 31, 2007
BBC: Hackers assault Windows PCs every 15 minutes, ignores obvious solution: Get a Mac – October 09, 2006
BBC signs web deal with Microsoft – September 28, 2006


  1. If it doesn’t function like an iPod, any music service or phone won’t make a splash. Sony Ericsson has made several walkman phones, and I don’t seem to recall any major press or any anticipation of the devices.

  2. Why are phone companies delusional? Because they saw how much money people spent on ring tones. And then kept on spending each month from people that didn’t realize they were only renting their ring tones. The charge is hidden in their monthly statements that most people never read.

    When they don’t get the music numbers they think they are entitled to they will blame Apple and their stranglehold on the music industry, not their own incompetence.

  3. I should point out, particularly to John, that MDN does no actual reporting. What they are is a digest. They cull the media for reports they think might be interesting to us and then post them here. An MDN Take is not reportage. It is commentary. Spot-on many times, I might say, but commentary nonetheless.

  4. MDN puts itself forward as a “News” site. A “digest” is a report by another name. And it frequenty misinterprets events to suit its own agenda, witness recent reports/digests of BBC misreporting iTunes being tied to the iPod. MDN is not impartial by any stretch of the imagination. THe basic recipe of the site appears to be 1) find articls that are in some way anti-mac 2) stir in some rehotoric about how said articles are wrong/anti Mac users 3) let Mac users flame away. And all of this it does anonymously. At least when the BBC gets a fact wrong there is a procedure in place to correct it. They are accountable to their users. MDN on the other hand just spouts out its flame bait, reglardless of whether they are abiding by the truth.

  5. @John:
    1) The article MDN sites are not anti-mac. The articles are full of FUD. Hence, MDN’s take on clarifying the FUD. See for yourself in each take.
    2) There is no rhetoric. There is only truth. MDN only asks for the balanced reporting–which makes the majority of these reporters biased or they do not know the product they are covering.
    3) Mac users do not always flame away. Mac users flame away because of stupid reporters that MDN points out. These reporters do not know the first thing about reporting. As a reporter, you are supposed to provide a balanced view. Then you let the consumer make the decision. Often times, if not most, they make the decision for the consumer.

    Hence, MDN’s take is spot on.

  6. The BBC.

    The BBC is the original model of a ‘content-download’ pre-paid subscription service.

    As technology develops, the organisation is fiercely manoeuvring to protect and profit from the model it was the first to use.

    Perhaps what many people outside of the UK don’t know is that if a UK citizen hasn’t paid his or her ‘subscription’ (called a ‘licence fee’ in the UK), it is illegal to own a television set – regardless of if the TV set owner never views BBC channels. It is also technically illegal to own a radio set as the subscription fee also covers the BBC’s five terrestrial radio stations and numerous digital ones.

    Traditionally, the BBC justified and defended its subscription service model by claiming the revenues it generated enabled the corporation to broadcast content which would not be available on commercially-funded services – as the underlying goal of all commercial broadcasters is to attract as large an audience as possible to deliver to advertisers.

    However, with the advent of satellite and digital broadcasting, the BBC has increasingly (and surreptitiously) shifted its position. Internationally, the vast growth in TV channels has opened up a market for the BBC to sell its programming on to – creating a highly profitable new source of income. This has resulted in a commercialisation – or ‘dumbing-down’ – of the BBC’s programme content as it is increasing tailored to be an attractive ‘product’ to sell-on to markets where the population would not understand much of the idiosyncratic UK cultural content that is exactly the type of ‘in-depth’ quality the BBC has always pointed to as a justification of its subscription fee to UK citizens.

    In the UK, the host of new commercial channels has put intense pressure on the BBC to justify the continuation of its enforced subscription service placing the corporation in the untenable position where it now paradoxically undermines its ‘reason-to-exist’ in order to grab audience share and thereby prove its ‘reason-to exist’.

    Further to this, an increasing amount of the revenue the BBC generates from the subscription fee charged to UK citizens – exclusively for TV and radio programmes – is now syphoned off to build and maintain a vast web empire which is, of course, accessible to anyone anywhere… regardless of whether they have paid the subscription fee used to finance it and to obliterate any web-based commercial competition.

    The BBC is now getting into bed with Microsoft. Many people in the UK are curious about the pricing model the BBC develops for iPlayer as well as the restrictive DRM it will introduce to prevent access to its programming. Subscription fees payers (which, remember, includes everyone in the UK who owns a TV set) are questioning whether the BBC can charge them a second time for what they have already paid for – and if the corporation can use digital rights management to deny UK citizens access to what, in fact, they already own.

    As you can see – the BBC and Microsoft very much sing from the same hymn sheet.

  7. John:
    MDN exists because of the large anti-Apple, anti-Macintosh bias that has existed for over 23 years in many large organizations. Since the original Mac, many, even most people in IT have felt threatened by it, and for good reason. Any computer with significantly lower tech support costs than the PC means fewer IT jobs and lower wages.

    Because many news outlets are large organizations, MDN has always had a significant number of ant-Apple reporting to alert us to, and there are more these days, as many “news” outlets no longer attempt any pretense at unbiased reporting. If you’re looking for objective reporting, I have no idea where you can find it, and I doubt that you do, either.

  8. Back to the issue at hand, MDN is exactly right: why do they keep trying subscriptions despite ample evidence that it will fail? They just want that recurring revenue stream so badly!!!

    Omnifone is Napster-redux.

    To: mobile network operators who don’t like MDN’s Takes in this article for obvious reasons, you can stop posting now, suckers, and concentrate on failing.

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