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Napster and AT&T to Offer Direct-to-Phone, Wireless Music Downloads

AT&T Releases Wireless Napster for Mobiles (Not iPhone)In the U.S. , at least, AT&T's partnership with Apple means an AT&T contract is the only way to (easily) get yourself an iPhone. To go along with its handset, Apple launched a wireless iTunes store, which lets iPhoners get new tunes on the go -- as long as they're in a Wi-Fi hotspot. Now AT&T is making another partnership, this time with iTunes competitor Napster, to create a wireless download service for non-iPhoners.

The service, which launches today, will let AT&T users browse and download tracks from Napster's catalog of roughly five million tunes. Unlike the iTunes store, though, the wireless, direct-to-phone service from Napster asks users to pay a hefty premium for the convenience of downloading anywhere. Tracks will cost $1.99 apiece, about twice that of a typical Napster download, though you can purchase a five-track pack for $7.49.

One nicety will be the ability to download a second copy of purchased tunes onto a computer, meaning those songs you buy on the road won't be stuck on your phone. Additionally, Napster users who buy tracks through their computers (at the regular $. 99 price) will be able to sync up with their phones.

Why is the direct-to-phone wireless download with Napster than it is with the iPhone/iTunes? Partly it's because the Napster/AT&T wireles downloads are done over cell phone networks, which are slower and cost more to operate than the the Wi-Fi method.

Also, there's nothing really new about the AT&T/Napster partnership, particularly if you've had the exact same ability on Verizon Wireless and Sprint PCS for nearly the past two years. But for non-iPhone AT&T subscribers, who until now have only had the eMusic direct-to-phone option, this new Napster feature, which launches next month, will provide a choice of about five million more songs to download.

Unlike the eMusic downloads, however, the Napster downloads are laden with DRM (digital rights management), which means the songs are limited in terms of what devices they'll play on (definitely NOT your iPhone). And, the direct-to-phone downloads will only work on the AT&T phones that are 3G-capable, so make sure you buy the right kind of phone if you're planning on making the switch to AT&T.

From AOL News (Reuters)

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