Cricket Launches Music-Centered Mobile Plan

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Cricket Communications, a unit of prepaid service provider Leap Wireless, has introduced what it calls the first music service from a carrier to be offered as part of a new wireless rate plan. Rolling out in January, the Muve Music service will feature a catalog of music from the four major record labels: Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and EMI Music.

For $55 a month, in addition to unlimited calling, text and mobile Web access, Muve Music customers will get unlimited full track downloads, ringtones and ringback tones on Cricket's 3G network. The system also uses a new SanDisk technology that allows DRM-free over-the-air downloads, stored and protected on a special flash memory card.

The music service will debut on the Samsung Suede feature phone, which will sell for $199 and has a 3-inch touchscreen and Qwerty keyboard. It will also feature a dedicated button to give users one-touch access to Muve Music. Cricket said the new offering was the culmination of working with the record companies over the last two years toward a flat-rate plan to deliver music more conveniently on mobile phones.

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Ben Bajarin, director of Consumer Technology Practice at Creative Strategies, suggested Muve could herald a new mobile-centric model for digital music. "By tightly integrating the music service into the handset and the billing plan everyone in the value chain benefits and consumers have a complete music service where the phone is the hub not the PC," he said in a statement.

Apple has long dominated mobile music through its iTunes download service in tandem with the iPod, iPhone and now, iPad. But Cricket's service is aimed at no-contract customers using handsets other than the iPhone, sold only by AT&T. Whether Muve Music helps drive more customers to Cricket, and has a wider impact on the wireless industry, should become more clear in the first half of 2011.

An initial hands-on review by PCMag.com found the service to have a wide range of top hits and decent sound quality, even if not suited "for high-end audio aficionados." It also highlighted features like a "My DJ" function to analyze songs you've been listening to and suggest similar ones, and a "shout" option to send links to songs via SMS.

Cricket is the nation's seventh-largest wireless operator, with about 5 million subscribers in 35 states.

 

1 comment about "Cricket Launches Music-Centered Mobile Plan ".
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  1. Amanda Peña from Lenco Mobile Inc., December 21, 2010 at 6:39 p.m.

    According to research firm Informa Telecoms & Media, mobile operators should partner with music streaming services to build customer loyalty and increase revenues.

    The study reports that ordinary Western European mobile operators with around 20 million customers could see significant revenue rise, upwards of one million dollars per year, "from new users if they paired with music streaming services rather than pursuing the download model for their own music download stores on mobile phones," said Files Cottle, an Informa analyst.

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