T-Mobile’s Ear Phones Service

T-Mobile have launched the Ear Phones music service, hoping to have 250,000 full length music tracks available for mobile phone download and play by Christmas.

The service hopes to capture the imagination of those for whom even iTunes is too slow, who want to download music and listen to it immediately when they are out and about.

T-Mobile have outlined their vision of the future in a press release that was written by someone who objects to sentences longer than five words – although there are no full tracks on the service yet, phone owners can download and play 90 to 120 second samples of 500 tracks, with full tracks being added soon.

The service will really need 3G coverage to be usable – a short sample track takes 2 minutes to download, which is a slightly longer time span than most youths own a particular model of phone. 3G networks will take this down to about 30 seconds – roughly the amount of time it takes to disrespect someone’s trainers at the bus stop.

The service is backed by Sony and Warner music, and Amy Winehouse is even scheduled to release her next single on Ear Phones.

T-Mobile have five new compatible handsets for the service launch, and are planning on 12 by Christmas. They “conservatively estimate” that they will have sold over 1 million Ear Phones by June next year, 4 million by the end of 2006.

No estimate on the number of full music tracks paid for and downloaded, I note. I suppose we’ll just have to do a little follow up on that in a little while.

The key stumbling block here is that people will be lumbered with a piece of content that is stuck on their phone and is not transferable to another device – home, car, personal stereo – the Open Mobile Alliance 1.0 DRM will keep it locked up and immovable.

The service is in danger of dying out after the novelty has worn off and customers realise they still have to carry two music players – and worse still, keep buying content over and over.


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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?