LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – The MOG on-demand music service announced another key hardware partner in its quest to become America’s favorite music subscription: a partnership with Verizon that will see a MOG music app pre-installed on Verizon’s 4G LTE phones.
Unlike Nokia’s Comes With Music phones, which pioneered the concept of bundling a music subscription with a phone, the MOG-enabled Verizon 4G LTE phones don’t “come with music;” instead, users can choose to pay $10/month to play any of MOG’s ten million songs, or to download as many songs, albums or playlists as can fit on their phones. (The upside: you won’t have to pay for it if you’re not using it.) And instead of billing their credit cards, subscribers can tack the music subscription onto their regular phone bill — a teen-friendly solution that Google Android Marketplace also recently said it would employ.
Bandwidth is a major issue for anyone looking to stream music to their cellphones as a regular part of their day – particularly if you intend to use your cellphone’s wireless connection to deliver music to your car on long trips, as a great deal of companies here at CES think you will. (Insiders say others are working on native in-dash music apps that don’t need your cellphone’s connection, but those are coming later for the most part.)
Verizon’s Wireless 4G LTE network will offer faster speeds than any other carrier’s 3G connection, which means MOG has the potential to sound better over this network than would technically be possible over any regular 3G network. Indeed, MOG-on-Verizon-4G-LTE promises a 320 Kbps MP3 codec, which is as good as an MP3 can sound, as well as other high-bandwidth niceties like high-resolution album art and the ability to download a whole playlist quickly with a single click.
But when it comes to wireless data, music fans face a more pressing issue than sound quality or fast-downloading playlists: monthly data limits. Verizon currently charges $50 per month for 5GB, or $80 for 10GB, with each additional monthly gigabyte costing another $10. (Apple and AT&T grandfather in early users of unlimited iPhone data plans, but has applied similar limits for new customers.)
The $50/month option is good for about a day and a half of 320 Kbps music over a month-long period, which averages out to a little more than an hour per day of music streaming before you hit your limit (and that’s if you use your phone for nothing else). Before services like this can become something you flip on in a car the way you would a car stereo, something’s got to give with those wireless data limits.
The end of unlimited wireless data plans means that users of the MOG-enabled Verizon 4G phone (and other music-streaming smartphones) could prefer to download most of their music via WiFi for later playback — especially in the car, where so much of CES is focused — leaving at least some portion of the dream of an all-playing “celestial jukebox” unrealized.
As a result, the “4G” aspect of MOG-on-Verizon-4G-phones doesn’t appear to be a huge deal — and in many parts of the country, the service will be forced to use 3G anyway, because 4G is not yet ubiquitous. But the deal provides a boost to MOG, which will likely see an increase in subscriptions as a result. Music app developers tell us that bundling apps with smartphone manufacturers – you know, the way Apple does with YouTube, iTunes and iPod –- is a major factor in attracting new fans.