Charlotte (NC) – It was little surprise that the Napster brand would eventually find its way onto mobile equipment, but what was the surprise was the name of the first provider to give it air time. SunCom Wireless, a wireless service provider for North and South Carolina, Georgia, parts of Tennessee and Virginia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, has won a contract with Ericsson to provide Napster service direct to handsets.
According to a statement yesterday from Ericsson, SunCom customers will be able to use a mobile service to download Napster content directly to their handsets. Yet at the same time, a duplicate copy of the same selected songs will be queued up for users’ PCs. This is how the companies will get around the problem of Napster’s DRM scheme probably being incompatible with the ones embedded in Ericsson and Sony Ericsson phones; this way, the customer gets both formats.
What is not clear from Ericsson’s statement is whether handset users will have access to the same “unlimited download” plan that Napster currently offers for PC users. One sentence from the statement, which states that customers will have access to 30-second previews prior to downloading, “as well as play all the music they purchase,” implies the presence of a per-song download fee.
If there is a contractual difference, then one reason for it could be the fact that Napster’s brand is being licensed to Ericsson, which actually manages and runs the Napster Mobile network on the company’s Service Delivery Platform, according to Ericsson.