O2 announces music, gaming packages

CeBIT: Mobile phone users will soon be able to download the next hit from Dido or Pink to a music player via their handset. Unless they'd rather play Prince of Persia instead, of course

O2 announced details of a forthcoming mobile music download service on Tuesday at CeBIT -- one of a range of new data packages that the European mobile operator has in the pipeline.

Called Music-Pack, the service consists of a digital music player that can be attached to a GPRS-compatible mobile phone -- via either a cable or Bluetooth.

Once linked up, the gadget uses the handset to connect to O2's servers, where the user will be able to download music files, as well as other features such as screensavers of bands and artists.

It's not yet clear what range of music will be on offer. O2 said it has already signed deals with BMG -- whose contracted artists include Pink, Dido and The Strokes -- and music channel MTV.

A spokesman for the mobile firm indicated that the songs on offer were likely to include at least a selection of those in the top 40. He also explained that digital rights management technology should prevent consumers from downloading a song and then distributing it widely.

O2 demonstrated that a 3G handset could be used to download music videos from its servers. However, the company does not plan to launch 3G in the UK until the second half of 2004.

Speaking at a press conference, Peter Erskine, chief executive of mmO2, explained that O2 is seeing increased customer demand for data services, adding that over 100,000 customers have signed up for its range of Java games and MMS services in the three months since since they were launched in the autumn of 2002.

O2 also disclosed that it has developed a product aimed at mobile gamers. Games-Pack will include several handset games, including platform classic Prince of Persia. Few details were available, except that subscribers should get unlimited gameplay in return for a fixed monthly fee.

Both Music-Pack and Games-Pack should be launched commercially later this year. Pricing details were not immediately available.

For full coverage of CeBIT 2003 -- the biggest tech show in the world -- see the CeBIT News Section.

For further coverage of upcoming UK and international events go to ZDNet UK's Events channel.


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