Mobile World Congress: Did the mainstream media notice?

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Sony Ericsson strikes at Nokia’s Comes With Music with PlayNow (from Omnifone)

You remember a little while ago I wrote that the next-big-thing is going to be music on the handset?

Nokia’s ‘Comes With Music’ strategy has ‘been putting the shits up’ (direct quote from one industry player) a lot of the marketplace.

Now Sony Ericsson have entered the fray with their offering. Instead of their piss-poor hugely rubbish music offerings of the past, they’ve partnered with Omnifone, the chaps behind Vodafone’s MusicStation service.

Omnifone’s MusicStation is genius. Total genius. It is how music was meant to be on normal candybar style non-iPhone handsets. I spent a good two or three weeks with my Omnifone trial and simply loved the experience of having my music AND my phone in one simple device. No arsing about sideloading or syncing. It’s all done over the air and dynamically. And they’ve got a big, big archive.

Sony are bringing out a dedicated handset to support the service — the W902 Walkman — and it goes live on… who else, Telenor (just about the most progressive network operator on the planet!).

There’s a lot of questions, most notably the end-user service cost. I am assuming that Sony will be offering a year’s free service — or something like that — with every device. Or perhaps a basic service that you can upgrade. No details on that as yet.

Rather interestingly, you’ll be able to browse tracks on your handset AND your PC (and, I hope, Mac — no details on that yet). This means you’ll be able to click your ‘jogging fast’ playlist on the PC, add a few new tracks to it and then have it available on your handset, downloaded and ready by the time you step out the door. Brilliant.

My only issue? I wish this was what Sony and others had brought to market a few years ago.

PlayNowâ„¢ plus will guarantee truly unlimited, ‘all-you-can-eat’ access to millions of music tracks. While in the service, subscribers will be able to recommend their music tastes to others in the PlayNowâ„¢ plus community, and at the end of their contract they will keep a number of tracks—DRM-free—from their most played favourites.

PlayNowâ„¢ plus is designed as the world’s easiest unlimited music service to manage as whatever you do on either your phone or your PC may be reflected on the other device. To add to the discovery and community aspects of PlayNowâ„¢ plus, TrackIDâ„¢ charts, generated by Sony Ericsson consumers around the world, are also included. To kick-start the PlayNowâ„¢ plus experience right out of the box, Sony Ericsson plans to include, as part of the service, up to 1000 of the most recent popular tracks, both locally and globally, with each PlayNowâ„¢ plus phone.

So add Sony to the music mix. Next up? LG? Samsung? I think they’re all going to go with it.

Or perhaps they’ll swap to Android and use Amazon’s MP3 store?

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