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MWC 2008: LG Plans Unlimited Music, Touchscreen, 3G Mobiles

Ominphone lands a major catch.

We’re starting to get to the chaff end of the MWC so we’re rather surprised this has surfaced so late…

Following its deal with Vodafone in December, UK based all-you-can-eat mobile music company Omniphone has announced it has now signed an agreement with LG to launch dedicated ‘MusicStation Max’ handsets. No formal technical details were released, but Omniphone did confirm Max devices will have 3G/HSDPA connectivity and ‘a next generation touchscreen user interface’. Intriguing.

Beyond the hardware, the main service differentiator from the existing MusicStation handsets on Vodafone’s network (which include a raft of current Sony Ericsson models and LG’s own Viewty} is that they will be able to download music directly without the need for a PC and wired transfer. In fact, the relationship will reverse with PCs synchronising wirelessly with Max handsets to keep backups of a user’s collection should their phone be lost or stolen. Users will also be able to share their content freely with other Max handset owners.

As for costs, they will be built directly into a user’s contract – though supporting networks (presumably Vodafone among them) are currently being kept under wraps and special tariffs of between 12 and 18 months will be required. Like the Vodafone MusicStation service there will also be the same major restriction: music will not be transferable unless it is to another Max model.

That said, with the so-called ‘Big Four’ music labels – EMI, Universal, Sony BMG and Warner Music – all onboard, LG Max handsets expected as soon as Q2 (have we seen one already?) and the likes of Nokia’s Comes With Music and Universal’s Total Music services all looking to offer something similar, it looks like this business model is here to stay.

Of course whether this system proves successful will largely depend on whether consumers still struggling to forgo physical ownership for virtual can take the next leap and exchange limited virtual ownership for unlimited virtual rental…

Try getting that one past granny….

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