MP3.com wades into wireless waters

Finding and buying tickets to live events is the tip of the iceberg for MP3.com's plans for wireless WAP-enabled devices

MP3.com jumped into the booming wireless jetstream Wednesday with the launch of its Wireless Live Events Calendar -- through which wireless users will be able to locate and purchase tickets to live events anywhere in the world.

The events calendar is MP3.com's first WAP (Wireless Application Protocol)-enabled application -- users need a WAP-enabled device to access the service -- but not the last. The company is planning more such services as wireless bandwidth increases.

Wireless Live Events promotes events at local venues. Users can view the selection and get general information of events, or, to buy a ticket, they can press a button to place a voice call to the venue and make the purchase. MP3.com does not charge a fee for this service, though the artist may charge through the venue.

MP3.com launched Wireless Live Events first, ahead of other apps, because, given the current transfer rates of network carriers, it is the least bandwidth-demanding.

Ken Hyers, analyst at Cahners In-Stat Group, believes the service is a good one considering the audience that is most likely to use the service -- youths.

"It's a great idea for reaching a growing group, but it's too bad you have to make a voice call to make a purchase. The biggest potential benefit is not having to wait to talk to someone to make a purchase."

More such wireless services are planned, said Shawn Conahan, MP3.com's director of wireless strategies. "Users can expect to hear streaming audio on WAP-enabled devices sometime this year. But the quality will be limited to the available bandwidth."

The strategy is to extend these wireless services across the board to different devices.

"We have essentially created a jukebox in the sky, and our strategy is built around providing access to it and other services from any device," said company CEO Michael Robertson.

It is expected that users will be able to access their MP3.com content at home, in a car and other upcoming unannounced portable devices. To that end, the company is providing device manufacturers and infrastructure providers, such as wireless carriers, with the necessary APIs to enable new products and services.

Bob McKune, marketing manager of Texas Instruments, for example, said that device manufacturers using TI's DSP are expected to release products that can take advantage of MP3.com's services starting in September.

More services and devices will on display at MP3.com's upcoming MP3 Summit 2000 in San Diego, California, June 20-21.

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