Let the Games Begin

Posted by: Heather Green on May 10, 2005

Err, the music, I mean. Rogers Wireless, our Canadian wireless friend to the North, just unveiled Rogers MusicStore, which lets people download songs wirelessly to their phones to play there. They’re working with startup Melodeo Inc. to provide the service. This is the beginning of the North American wireless carriers moving into this space, trying to take on iPod, a trend we wrote about in April.

But we were waiting to see what the pricing would be and here we go…it’s $1.25 to $1.99 a pop. Plus, if you download the same song from the Net, you pay an extra $1. The wireless carriers argue that people will pay for convenience, but I just don’t buy it. The price has to be closer to the 99 cents standard price Apple has established.

Update and correction: I met with Melodeo today and they clarified that the Rogers music service isn’t designed to allow someone to move a song from a phone to the computer. Instead, Melodeo can provide “dual delivery” of a track you buy.

I.E. the service can send one copy of a track to your phone and one to your PC. Melodeo CEO William Valenti would prefer that you get both tracks for the one fee. But in this case, Rogers is charging a fee for each copy. Earlier, I had written that you could move the song from the cell phone to the PC for free--because that makes sense. Silly me. Valenti says that on both the flexibility to move the song around and the cost of the songs, there is going to be a lot of experimentation and different pricing depending on what makes sense in each country.
But when it comes to the U.S., where the iPod reigns supreme, I am with Matt Rowlen, the vice president of business development, who said during the discussion that U.S. carriers only have one shot to get this right.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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