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P2P radio goes mobile

But Windows only, for now

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Popular P2P music sharing service Mercora has released a client for mobile devices. Mercora allows members to play each other their own songs and playlists across the network - it's legal, and royalties are collected and distributed to rights holders.

Mercora dropped its subscription fee last year in favour of a revenue stream from contextual ads. The mobile service, however, will be priced at $4.99 a month, with discounts for one year or two year sign-ups. A free trial will be available until the end of the month.

Unfortunately the initial mobile client, called Meriden, will only be for Windows Mobile 5.0 or PocketPC devices, which have negligable market share outside the USA. That's not where the listeners are, according to Mercora. More than two thirds of its streams go outside the United States.

Mercora says it will consider versions for Symbian and Java.

Apple has shunned building wireless connectivity or radio functionality into its hit iPod player. Mercora is just one of a number of start-ups seeking to bridge the gap between home media collections and mobile devices, each in its slightly different way.

Michael Robertson's MP3Tunes Music Locker allows you to sync your music library across devices, including PCs, Nokia S60 smartphones, and even to a TiVo. Orb Networks allows you to listen to your home music collection on a phone, but also shares your home TV stream, or photo album, to another PC or mobile device. Orb recently signed a deal to bundle its software with a £99 Hauppauge TV tuner card, turning it into a low cost Slingbox.

Mercora provides a fascinating parallel with News International's MySpace, which owes its success to on-demand streaming music. Recording rights holders and composers are keen to see MySpace pay a share of royalties, which News International doesn't believe it should do. Mercora's decision to build its technical infrastructure around paying rights holders - albeit in tiny amounts each time - makes MySpace's stance harder to maintain. And News International is a lot wealthier than Mercora... ®

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