I was idly flipping through the Orange World menus yesterday evening (because that's what I love spending my Saturday nights doing, of course) and noticed an advert for the Orange Music Player. I'd not heard of it before - other than some vague faffle at Glastonbury last year, where Orange traditionally have a big sponsorship deal - so I thought I'd give it a go. And write about it hear, obviously.
The experience was a bit long-winded. Download the music player (about 180k or so of it, I think - it's a native Symbian app so I presume it's Series 60 only), install it, and start it up... at this point it asks to go onto the network and download some initial stuff, which apparently it'll only have to do once. Unfortunately it doesn't say anything about how much data is being transferred and what (or if?) this'll cost me, but I went along with it anyway.
The app starts up with yer typical menu: don't ask me what the difference is between "charts" and "best sellers" is, or "Artist A-Z" and "Full catalogue"... but all the usual stuff is there.
The app itself is quite slow - even when it's not going to the network to grab stuff; and most choices from the menu lead to it connecting to download some more data. Again, I'm not sure what this costs me but that's a problem with GPRS in general as much as it is this service. Categories of music seem quite arbitrary and I can't help feeling that Orange have missed a trick here - rather than producing a hierarchy of music organised into arbitrary categories ("Golden Oldies Top 15"), I'd like to be able to browse by artist or do a search for something I really like. But maybe there isn't enough music available to allow searches.
Once you've found a track you want, there's a "preview" option which downloads a short clip to listen to. This worked OK but was a tad slow - I'd be interested in seeing how this all works on Orange 3G. Having a small graphic for the track was a nice touch. Then purchasing - £1.50 for a track. Not too bad, but here's where I wondered: what else can I do with this music?
Err - not much. There was no way of transferring it away from the handset built into the Music Player app, so I had a go taking it off using a Series 60 File Manager. The file seems to look a bit like an mp3 (despite the .koz) extension - the UNIX "file" command actually thought it was an mp3 - but nothing on my desktop (iTunes, RealPlayer, VLC) would play it.
So I've paid £1.50 for a track I can play on my phone, but nowhere else; this might be a content owners wet dream, but it's not very helpful for me. I guess I'm expected to pay again for each new device I want to play the music on, or something... It's DRM-by-the-numbers, unimaginative and a disappointing experience.
FWIW the DRM looks like it's supplied by Chaoticom, who I'd not heard of before.