Aussie text service tags elusive tunes

Cellphone users wanting to name that song can hold up their handset and receive the answer via text message

An Australian company has underlined the potential of proven technologies such as short-messaging services to deliver m-commerce applications, by launching two new products based on SMS.

B33hive has entered m-commerce with two services -- one a music identification and purchase service and the other an information service -- that use SMS. The first offering, BaZook, allows customers to purchase songs using their mobile phones. The innovation comes with "song-tagging" using a technology owned by Limeworks.

Song-tagging allows you to dial a number and play 30 seconds of a song down the phone, and BaZook will then SMS back the title and artist of the song, at a cost of $1.10 (46p). The company claims the service filters out background noise and will work in a nightclub. The customer is then given the opportunity to purchase a ringtone if one is available, or can order the song as a WMA file which can be downloaded off the Internet for $3.50.

The downloaded song is licensed, and can be burned three times, transferred to three different devices and reinstalled twice. BaZook plans to have all the songs on the charts available, and hopes the convenience and ability to pay using your mobile rather than a credit card will make the service successful, despite being expensive compared to other legitimate online music download services.

The other service launched by B33hive is BuzzWord, which is a form of blogging by SMS. Mobile users send a message that includes a buzzword to the company and receive back an SMS 'blog' or information service prepared by the registered owner of the buzzword.

The idea is that the owner of the buzzword can change the content of the return SMS as often as they like, or even set up an automated system which delivers updated information from one or more sources. For example, NineMSN have launched a Buzzword service which offers the latest stock quotes. Another suggestion for the use is a coach of a childrens sports team, who posts the details of the weekly match for parents to receive via SMS.

B33hive charges $5 to obtain a buzzword, although a registered business name will cost $20 and a "generic" name will cost $50. This is aimed to deter the practice of the buzzword equivalent of cybersquatting, according to B33hive.

It costs 25c to send an SMS to the BuzzWord number, and another 30c to receive the SMS. The operator of the BuzzWord gets 5c every time their offering is accessed, and B33hive make their money by buying SMS at cheap rates from the mobile carriers.

B33hive have foreshadowed the launch of more mobile services in the near future. The head of the team, Doug Carlson, founded and later sold the business to Woolworths.