November 27, 2006 1:22 PM PST
Start-up claims to offer next mobile-music thing
Mobile music is turning out to be a hot market. Three of the four major mobile operators in the United States have announced music stores that let customers access a music library from their cell phones. Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel allow users to purchase music over their wireless networks and download it directly onto their phones. These carriers also allow subscribers to "side load," or use a cable, to download music stored on their PCs directly to their cell phones.
But until now, "side loading" music from a user's own collection on a PC has required the use of the cable connector. Oxy claims that its new service, called Phling, is the first to offer this capability over a wireless network, which streams the music from the PC to the handset.
A big benefit of this approach is that subscribers no longer need additional storage capability on their handsets, which means users can access thousands of songs. What's more, if a subscriber ever loses his handset, he can easily reconnect a new phone to the Phling service without losing any music files.
But because the service depends on a fast wireless connection, it can be disrupted if a user wanders out of range or if the network becomes overloaded.
Phling also offers a social-networking component to its service by allowing users to share their music library with up to six friends. Phling subscribers can also browse the music libraries of anyone within the Phling network to see what they are listening to, and also how they rate the songs in their music library.
Oxy plans to make its software available to mobile operators, which will use it to sell services directly to consumers. The company has launched a pilot program with Swisscomm in Europe. It hopes to strike a deal with a carrier in the United States sometime next year.