Robbie William’s Flash New Album

Robbie William’s new Greatest Hits album will be available on MMC memory card, the first major album ever to be sold on the format. Designed for use in PDAs and mobile phones, the cards will be available from Carphone Warehouse stores next month for UK£29.99 (€43.14).

The publisher, EMI Music, are in talks with Carphone Warehouse to bring out more albums on MMC before Christmas, under CW’s ‘playmobile’ brand. Isn’t that a range of plastic figures? Oh, I see the connection.

EMI claim that the sound quality will be comparable to a CD – though as the album also features video, the content is sure to be heavily compressed. Since mobile phones and PDAs are far from high fidelity devices, I suspect it doesn’t matter to most of the people who will buy the card anyway – though I predict that 25% of sales will be to nosy music execs from other labels.

Carphone Warehouse are modestly saying that the introduction of Robbie’s new MMC is the beginning of a new music era, and that it will ‘delight the iPod generation.’

I seriously doubt it will delight people with iPods – no technical details are available on the file encoding scheme, but I doubt if they’ll be compatible. In fact, I will give the first person who manages to get the tracks from the MMC to play, natively, on an iPod an original, vinyl, 12” of Joy Division’s ‘Transmission’, the track that Williams shamelessly ripped-off for his new single Radio. No transcoding allowed, and using kit available to your average Robbie William’s fan.

The MMC format will be fraught with problems – not all phones or PDAs use MMC cards and consumers may avoid it when they realise that they won’t be able to use the music on other devices like their home or car stereo. At two or three times the cost of a CD. The value added features will have to be compelling.

The Carphone Warehouse’s Director of Group Business Development Kevin Gillan said in a statement: “2004 has undeniably seen a massive, and very mainstream, shift towards digital music. We see pre-loaded music memory cards as the next step and part of a general consumer hunger for more mobile content. playmobile will go beyond this and provide our customers with a quality experience at real value for money.”

CW intend to introduce many other types of content on the playmobile brand, including games, ringtones, wallpaper and video.

Robbie Williams

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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?