02 mobile music revolution

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O2 is hoping to transform the way people buy and listen to music with the launch of the world’s first digital music player that that connects to mobile phones and allows users to download the latest chart hits.

In an exclusive preview The Guardian reports that the O2 Digital Music Player (DMP) is a small device around the size of a cigarette packet that connects to many handsets (including most recent Nokia and Siemens phones) by infrared and then allows users to browse through a selection of up to 100,000 songs from four of the five leading record companies.

Tracks take around three minutes to download, although users can start listening to the track they choose within thirty seconds of the download beginning. The latest chart hits cost £1.50 with older tracks retailing for £1.

Although the player is compatible with MP3s for the downloaded music it uses a new-ish format called AAC plus. This deliver tracks that on average are 1MB, as opposed to 3MB for the standard MP3 track, enabling users to store over 60 tracks on the player’s removable 64MB Secure Digital (SD) card.

In spite of the compression sound quality is actually reasonably good – certainly comparable to MP3.
The integrated digital right management system allows users to store the tracks on their PC, but not to actually play them. O2 says this will change and in the future users will be also to not only listen to tracks on a PC but also burn them to disc. Several manufacturers are apparently working on handset with the music player already integrated. These are slated to launch in Spring 2004.

The player is available now from O2’s website for £100.

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