NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – Swedish telecoms equipment maker Ericsson has teamed up with online music company Napster for a service that will let consumers download music to mobile phones.
The companies said on Wednesday they will license the Napster-branded music service to mobile phone carriers, much as Ericsson currently sells services such as text messaging and voice mail.
The deal between Ericsson and Napster comes as handset makers, mobile carriers, and established online players like Apple”s iTunes service battle to control the nascent mobile music market.
Mobile carriers are concerned that devices like Motorola”s long-promised iTunes phones will cut them out of the action, with consumers downloading music via their computers rather than paying the carriers to download music over a mobile network.
Napster and Ericsson said that their business model "accommodates mobile operator participation in all revenue streams."
Motorola hopes to ship its first iTunes phone this summer. Sony Ericsson, a joint venture between Ericsson and Sony, said this week that it would be launching its own music-centric mobile phone under the famous Walkman brand.
The new Napster-Ericsson service is scheduled to go live in Europe over the next 12 months and will initially be offered to operators in Europe, Asia, Latin America and North America, the companies said. It will let consumers load music onto their phones via a computer or over a mobile network.
Los Angeles-based Napster offers songs primarily through a monthly subscription plan, in contrast to the market-leading iTunes” a la carte model. It is facing fresh competition from Yahoo, which launched a similar subscription service last month that undercut Napster”s price.