Cingular to Support Napster, Yahoo! Music Services, Too

Apple's current mobile iTunes partner, Cingular Wireless, is going to raise the bar on their music offerings:

Cingular Wireless is expected to team up with online music services, including Napster Inc., Yahoo (YHOO.O: Quote, Profile, Research) Inc.'s Yahoo Music and eMusic, to launch a music service on its cellphone network, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The move by Cingular, jointly owned by AT&T (T.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and BellSouth (BLS.N: Quote, Profile, Research), may set the stage for a battle with Apple Computer's (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) Ipod. The service would work on cellphones that double as music players.

According to the Journal story Reuters cites, the most interesting thing Cingular's new service will allow for is synchronization with Napster's and Yahoo!'s Windows Media-based subscription services where, for a monthy fee, customers have access to the entire catalog of music these services offer. This would be in addition to playback of individual song downloads from Napster, Yahoo!, and eMusic, and tracks ripped from a customer's audio CDs. The Journal also says that An Over The Air (OTA) music download service from Cingular (like the ones offered by other carriers like Verizon and Sprint)  is purported to be in the works for next year. I suppose the goal would be to allow Cingular customers to buy tracks from Napster, Yahoo!, and eMusic while mobile.

This reads, for now, like not much more than an extra bit of distribution for Napster and Yahoo! Music; they're adding a few devices that Cingular resells to their list of supported players. That alone is not a huge win for the subscription services. Their larger problem is convincing people of the value of the model, especially when it precludes using an iPod as your player. Part of the problem with that messaging is the platform, Windows Media, and PlaysForSure, which has acquired a reputation for not being quite such a sure thing. Between momentum and bad press, the Apple triad of iPod, iTunes, and iTunes Store has rolled over the Windows Media and PlaysForSure ecosystem to such an extent that even Microsoft's abandoned it with Zune.

Leaving that aside, does this point to a carrier- and phone-maker threat to Apple's dominance of digital music? After all, Sprint has sold 8 million tracks in the last 12 months, and Nokia plans to put 80 million music-capable phones in customers' hands in the next year.

Well, Apple sold 1MM songs in its first five days of existence (which, incidentally, predates the iPod and [uh, no George: the iPod was released in October 2001, and the iTunes Store debuted in April 2003] the Windows version of iTunes). Since then, they've sold over 1.5BB songs and 45MM videos. The epicenter of digital music isn't shifting to Kansas City (or Helsinki) any time soon.

The mainstream of the portable (if not connected portable, or mobile) music business is Apple. Whether this changes depends on your answer to a few questions:

  • Does the world demand a converged device?
  • What's the baseline user experience when buying, managing, and listening to music on the go?
  • Where should this experience fit into the overall entertainment experience at home?

I see Apple as being able to bide their time as they address the first question (iPhone, anyone?), since they have a clear winning answer to the second issue, and an evolving strategy for the third, which we'll understand better as Apple brings their iTV product to market. In this last area, incidentally, none of the mobile players are credible—the real threats are Cisco, Microsoft, and Sony).

Does this rule out Cingular as Apple's exclusive partner for the upcoming iPhone everyone's expecting? Engadget doesn't seem to think so (or, at least they ain't sayin' yet).


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Update: I blew the relative introduction dates for the iPod, iTunes for Windows, and the iTunes Store. The original post implied that Apple managed to shift 1MM tracks in five days without benefit of the iPod adding to the demand, which would be amazing and totally wrong. Apple managed their amazing numbers without benefit of iTunes for Windows. That means they were selling exclusively to Mac users. Mea culpa.


Hallowe'en Explosion at the PayPal Offices

Both the San Francisco Bay Area CBS affiliate and the San Jose Mercury News have stories about an explosion that took place at around 7:00 last night at the PayPal offices in San Jose (here's a Google map of their location). 26 employees were reported to be in the building at the time of the explosion, but thankfully, nobody was hurt. The damage seems to have been limited to some plate glass windows.

The report says that a bomb was placed outside the exit of the PayPal section of the eBay/PayPal building, and fire department Captain Jose Guerrero says that the damaged plate glass was pretty thick and that the explosion it had to be pretty strong to do that type of damage. The CBS affiliate's report also states that “some kind of evidence” was found in the debris and makes the eerie statement that “no radioactivity was found”.

Our good thoughts go out to the people who work at eBay and PayPal, who are probably (and justifiably) a little freaked out right now.



Area Man Makes Second Attempt to Install Windows Vista

(In case you missed my first attempt to install Windows Vista, it's here.)

1:10 p.m.: Okay, it's time for plan B: boot the machine from the DVD. Perhaps all is not lost.

1:11 p.m.: The welcome screen appears. I have 2 choices:

  • Install Vista
  • Repair Installation

Since it's possible that Vista has already been installed and it's just the bootloader that's been bunged up, I choose the “Repair” option.

1:12 p.m.: The “Repair” option does me no good. It's only good for fixing Vista installations on your hard drive, and one can't be found. This doesn't bode well — remember, I chose to upgrade XP to Vista, which keeps my programs and data.

1:13 p.m.: My suspicion is confirmed. I'm now at the screen which lets me choose between upgrading to Vista or doing a clean install, and the “new install” option is the only one available; the “upgrade” option has been greyed out. A prompt at the bottom of the screen says that I can only do a new install on this machine.

Since “new install” is the only option available, I choose it. I'm now being asked to select a partition on which Vista will be installed. There's only one on this machine, so I choose it. Just for kicks, I choose the option format the partition as well.

Formatting is quick. Now to install Vista!

1:14 p.m.: An error box appears: “Vista cannot be installed on the partition you have selected.” No “OK” button, no “Cancel” button, no button at all. I wait for a little bit, and I'm kicked back to the opening screen.

1:15 p.m.: Let's try that again. This time, I delete the partition, create a new one and then format it. That should do the trick.

1:16 p.m.: An error box appears: “Vista cannot be installed on the partition you have selected.” No “OK” button, no “Cancel” button, no button at all. I wait for a little bit, and I'm kicked back to the opening screen.

If I wanted my computer rendered useless, I would've saved myself some time by simply continuing to run Windows XP on it.

Next: Success!