We’ve all been hearing how mobile phones are going to supplant portable digital music players like the iPod by subsuming most of their functions. However, mobile operators have mostly been focusing on providing ways for mobile phone users to stream or download music to their phones (and pay mightily for the privilege), although many mobile phones feature also-ran standalone MP3-player capabilities letting users access their personal music collections by manually loading them into their phones.
New music service Mercora M aims to bridge the gap—enabling users to wirelessly stream their own music collections to their phones—but also add to the equation via so-called “Web 2.0” social networking capabilities which enables users to listen to stream their friends’ music, as well as thousands of Internet-based music broadcasts. Mercora likens the capability to having thousands of high-quality, on-demand custom radio stations available, offering greater variety than any streaming music or satellite radio service.
Mercora M is an application for Windows 2000 or XP, and streams music to portable devices running Windows Mobile 5.0 or Windows Mobile 2003 SE, which includes gadgets like the Motorola Q and Palm Treo 700w. Users can tap into music from their own music library, listen to thousands of available Internet radio stations, or (eventually) tap into the personal music libraries of up to five other Mercora users, without violating copyright or DRM restrictions. The Mercora service enables users to browse artists and tracks, plus connect with other users via instant messaging.
Mercora M will be free through October 31; after that, Mercora M will be offered on a subscription basis for $4.99 a month, $49.99 a year, or $99.99 for two years.