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MusicGremlin touts PC-free wireless music player

Download tracks direct to the device

MusicGremlin's upcoming digital music player will support direct-to-device song downloads, the company said today as it begins to pitch technology licences to device manufacturers.

The company will next month launch a Wi-Fi enabled player that has enough web access smarts on board to tune into MusicGremlin's own online store and let the user purchase and download tracks. The unit scans for available networks, and connects when it can. When it can't do so, purchase requests are cached until there's suitable bandwidth available for the download.

Either way, users won't need a PC to act as a download intermediary.

MusicGremlin said it doesn't want to manufacture the player itself - instead it's looking for consumer electronics companies to do so under licence, much as satellite radio companies like XM and Sirius do. That strategy may work, if MusicGremlin can build up a sufficiently strong brand for big-name companies to ally themselves with. Buying music at any time sounds good, but consumers may not be willing to wait until they enter a Wi-Fi hotspot for the songs to appear. Download speed is the only real advantage the system offers over mobile phone-oriented download services, for example.

The company reckons it will offer more than 2m songs when devices go on sale some time in Q1 2006. The songs will be offered as per-track downloads and as part of unlimited-download monthly subscription packages. The tracks will be delivered by digital music distributor MusicNet, MusicGremlin said.

The firm didn't say what format it would offer tracks in - Windows Media Audio has to be the most likely choice - or whether the device can be connected to a PC, if only for back-up purposes. It didn't provide device specifications, but presumably it's hoping its various vendor partners will offer a range of products, some with high capacity hard drives, others based on Flash memory. ®

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