MP3tunes throws music locker doors open

by admin September 1, 2006 at 10:17 am

Michael Robertson, one of Silicon Valley’s most prolific company creators, continues to plug along with so-called music lockers.

His most recent music company, MP3tunes, began offering the lockers for free last week in an apparent attempt to draw interest from consumers. Music lockers enable a customer to store music on a company’s servers and later retrieve songs by having them streamed to any PC or Web-enabled device.

The service, called Oboe Free, allows a customer to store up to 1,000 songs–about the same capacity as Apple Computer’s 4-gigabyte Nano digital music player. Serious music fans can upgrade to one of MP3tunes’ two premium services for even more storage. For $19.95, MP3tunes offers twice the song capacity as Oboe Free, and for $39.95 a customer receives unlimited storage.

However, the public has yet to show much interest in music lockers or subscription services. Apple’s iPod and iTunes reign supreme in digital music, and everybody else trails far behind.

As competitors continue to search for Apple’s weak spot, they appear to be trying to undercut the company on price. On Tuesday, SpiralFrog announced a deal with record label Universal Music Group to offer songs for free. The start-up is planning to make money by selling ads that will appear as customers download music.

Robertson said another one of Apple’s vulnerabilities is its insistence on locking people’s music into Apple products and services. In an interview last week, he said he sees a day coming when consumers will want to listen on multiple devices such as Web-enabled home entertainment and car-audio systems. As it stands now, iTunes users can’t move their music to devices made by anyone but Apple.

Full story: CNET