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T-Mobile preps music download service

Mobile Jukebox limited to song clips - and not many of 'em

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T-Mobile is to provide customers will the ability to download music to their mobile phones.

But Apple needn't fear for its iPod just yet: T-Mobile's new 'Ear Phone' handsets can hold just three songs at once. And each song is limited to a 90-120s clip - as much for GPRS-based download duration reasons as handset storage capacity - and they're not cheap: £1.50 or €1.50.

Punters will be able to choose from a list of just 500 titles from Mobile Jukebox, though T-Mobile has promised to grow that to 250,000 by Christmas, with content from just two of the big five recording companies: Sony and Universal. T-Mobile hopes to sign deals with Warner and BMG in due course. It also expects to offer full-length songs in due course.

T-Mobile's service mirrors one launched by O2 earlier this year, which is based on a separate music player connected to Siemens mobile phones by infra-red. O2's service also allows songs to be saved on a PC. Its DMP (Digital Music Player, natch) device also plays MP3s copied over from a host computer.

T-Mobile is preparing a range of consumer-oriented Ear Phone handsets priced at £30-60. It reckons that will tempt consumers put off by the high prices hard drive-based music players carry, but T-Mobile's prices are not much lower than many Flash-based MP3 players that can hold rather more songs than its handsets can.

The T-Mobile Ear Phones will go on sale next month in Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and the Czech Republic. ®

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