AT&T Wireless is the latest company to enter the overcrowded online music download market. On Tuesday the company launched the mMode Music Store, which enables users to browse, sample and purchase music on their cell phones then download the music to their PCs — essentially turning the cell phone into a “remote control” for buying music. Compatible handsets working on AT&T Wireless’ GSM network can browse the store and play 30-second snippets. When purchased, the music is billed to the user’s AT&T Wireless cell phone account.
The mMode Music Store contains more than 750,000 tracks, according to AT&T Wireless. Individual tracks cost US$0.99 with many albums available for $9.99, a pricing model similar to what Apple uses for its popular iTunes Music Store. Unlike iTunes, however, the songs are encoded using Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio 9 (WMA) format and are protected using Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology. While this renders them incompatible with Apple’s popular iPod player, the songs can be transferred from the PC to other portable music devices that support WMA technology. Microsoft counts more than 70 compatible devices that can play such songs.
Other features of the mMode Music Store include a “Mobile wish list,” which lets users save song titles they want to buy later, the “Send to a Friend” feature that lets users share information about artists with other wireless subscribers, and celebrity playlists.