Sprint, Samsung look for piece of iTunes’ pie - Macenstein

Sprint, Samsung look for piece of iTunes’ pie

Sprint, Samsung look for piece of iTunes’ pie

Posted by Lab Rat

Today saw the announcement of not one but TWO new online music services looking to compete with Apple’s iTunes store. First out of the gate is Sprint Nextel Corp, whose just announced “Power Vision� is the first online music download service offered by a US cell carrier. Power Vision is similar to Verizon’s high speed VCast network which allows customers to download video content to their phones over a high speed wireless connection, but Power Vision is the first to add music to the equation. Sprint plans to sell songs for a rather steep $2.50 a song, in contrast to iTunes’ $0.99 per song. For that price, customers will get 2 versions of their songs, one formatted for use on their cell phone, and another higher quality version they can burn to a CD from their computer. Sprint claims users will not mind paying the extra cost in exchange for the “convenience� of a mobile download, and say the added cost covers the extra bandwidth usage required to purchase songs. Cingular, the US carrier for Apple’s and Motorola’s iTunes enabled ROKR cell phone, is expected to release a similar music store next year.

In addition to the announcement by Sprint, this morning also saw the media picking up on an announcement made last week by Samsung’s president Choi Gee-sung stating, “We are now in talks with our partners to debut a service program like iTunes of Apple. Our No. 1 priority is to help customers use our products with ease.’ Samsung’s service is perhaps a more worthy adversary and potential threat to Apple. Samsung manufacturers flash memory chips for use in many brands of digital music players, including the iPod. The odds are if they were to build their own music players, they would be able to compete aggressively on price against most rivals. The biggest advantage shared by both iTunes and the iPod is their relative simplicity. Gee-sung’s remarks seem to imply the Samsung is aware it needs to offer an impressive user experience in order to compete with Apple.

Of course, the great disadvantage any company hoping to enter the online music sale/player business faces is that none of the songs purchased in their stores will be compatible with the iPod, nor will any songs purchased via iTunes work on their players. Apple’s dominance in the music player market becomes more apparent with each iPod sold. The longer these companies wait to come out with this week’s “iPod killer�, the more of an investment in sticking with Apple most music fans will have. Once a person has $500 of purchased iTunes songs, it will be harder to convince him to switch services, no matter how “convenient� buying a song on the road is, or how “easy to use� their store’s interface is.

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