C550 – The fight to be THE music phone

C550   The fight to be THE music phone A couple of weird stories I’ve picked up on today which I can’t make sense of. Firstly, Liam Billington told me about this rather strange Inquirer article, which talks about …

“(Orange) will release a version of its SPV C550 smartphone featuring Windows Media Player 10 this month. Any device which boasts version 10 of the Media Player will be able to play back tracks protected by Microsoft’s DRM software. This includes smartphones which are running Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003 Smartphone Edition, Second Edition.”

Umm.. yeah. All Orange SPV C550 handsets have Windows Media PLayer 10 on board. I’m not sure why a press release has been issued stating “a version will be released with Windows Media Player 10”. Does it mean an end to Fireplayer? Perhaps Orange / France Telecom / Microsoft want to make more of an attack on the iTunes and iPod market by making it easier to access ALL online stores – not just network-specific ones.

Anyway, today also I spotted this article from TheBusinessOnline.com…..

“MICROSOFT has teamed up with mobile operator Orange to try to gain control of the digital music business, which the software giant believes could be worth hundreds of billions of pounds a year.

The Business has learned that Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has persuaded Orange to develop a mobile phone, the SPV C550, which will double as a Microsoft music player. Consumers will keep their music on a computer and transfer it to their mobiles. The music phone will go on sale in HMV’s flagship stores next month. HMV is using Microsoft software to run its digital music internet download service, HMV Digital Jukebox, which can be accessed by the phones.

Microsoft spokesman Jason Langridge said: “The mobile digital music market is about to take off. Porting digital music on to mobile phones represents a massive opportunity for Microsoft. While Apple has sold about 10m iPods worldwide to date, a quarter of the world’s population own mobile phones, which Microsoft software can turn into digital music players.”

Gates has timed the launch to coincide with his arch-rival Apple founder and chief executive Steve Jobs’ long-awaited unveiling of an iTunes phone, expected this week. Jobs is expected to launch the Motorola iTunes phone, which incorporates the technology of the world’s most successful digital music player, the iPod, into a mobile, at Apple’s annual product show in San Francisco. According to industry sources, the phone will run on the Cingular mobile network in the US and on O2’s UK mobile network.

Microsoft plans to topple Apple’s iTunes from its position as the world’s best-selling digital music service and make Windows Media Audio the industry standard. The Microsoft-powered phone will do everything that an iPod can but will be incompatible with Apple’s products.”

So the fight is on. HMV, Orange and Bill Gates on one side and iPod (And Apple Founder Steve Jobs) on the other. Meanwhile my mate Richard Branson (I shook his hand once on a Virgin flight, so therefore he instantly becomes my mate) is preparing to release his own phones..

So will the Orange Fireplayer be dropped ? Or will the C550 be promoted even more heavily as THE music player to have if you’re intending to have a phone / MP3 player combo ?

Either way – the iPod Phone isn’t here yet… but the C550 with its’ in-built Windows Media Player 10 and rights management already is…

Links – TheBusinessOnline (Comments in the story are from Jason Langridge, whos blog is here).

Links – TheInquirer.net