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Mobile music, minus the fee

Mediamaster_logo_2 It's been interesting to watch the number of entrepreneurs building Web-based media businesses around the concept of online lockers, an idea that failed in convincing fashion back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This time, though, they're offering something a tad sexier than access to your collection from your PC at work. Ezmo is one example; another is MediaMaster, which is enables people to create Internet radio stations based on their collections. Those stations can then be posted to their Facebook pages.

Now, MediaMaster is pushing the edge a bit futher by giving users free access to their collections from certain kinds of cellphone (specifically, a smartphone running Windows Mobile software or a Treo equipped with Palm's OS). That's a wonderfully disruptive use of the technology, given its potential to undermine all sorts of fee-based mobile music businesses. I mean, how long will it be before every phone has the brains of a smartphone? This, IMHO, is the Achilles heel of mobile-phone apps that try to extract a premium from consumers for the privilege of doing things that they can do for free (or less expensively) on a Web-connected PC. Ultimately, the only sustainable premium may be the price that mobile carriers charge for data service, and even that has dropped considerably over the years.

The X factor here is what MediaMaster may eventually charge for its locker service, which is still in something of an r&d phase. My guess, though, is that some amount of storage and remote access will always be free -- it would hard to compete otherwise -- and the company will make its money off of add-on services and sponsorships.


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Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

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