What it is: Motorola’s iRadio subscription service has 435 channels of music, talk and other programming. Subscribers pay $7 to $10 per month to download up to 18 hours of content. Some of the channels are so specific as to be limited to one artist’s repertoire or a specific style of music from an era or eclectic groupings such as “Angry Women.” Using a cable, content is downloaded from the Internet/PC to a mobile handset and can be played on the handset, home stereo system or via Bluetooth technology in a car. When attached to the PC cable, which also charges the handset’s battery, channel content automatically is updated with the latest programming. Mobile-phone users will be able to buy music over the air through their carrier.
Who’s behind it: Motorola with licensing deals with General Electric Co.’s Universal Music unit and Time Warner's Warner Music Group.
What it means to the music scene: In trying to move one step beyond Steve Jobs’ iTunes, Motorola is offering music artists and other entertainment franchises an on-demand route for distribution to a highly defined fan base. Unlike iTunes, satellite-radio competitors and even Motorola’s first Rokr E1 iTunes music phone, Motorola claims its service will be easier for consumers because it is more logically organized.
Why you should care: This latest example of the power of mobile as a convergence device will offer direct-to-consumer music sales as well as other highly targeted marketing opportunities such as product integration and concert sponsorships, contests and other promotional activities.
Who’s using it: No one at the moment. Motorola executives expect some if not all of the nation’s top wireless-service providers will begin participating by midyear. IRadio works with the Motorola Rokr 2 phone but will be compatible with other Motorola handsets, mobile phones from other manufacturers and maybe even one day with Apple’s music empire.