HP Bundling Omnifone Music Service on European PCs


Is it just us, or is all that software bundles on new PCs getting louder? Hewlett-Packard and Omnifone have just announced a deal to bundle Omnifone’s online music service in Pavilion, Presario, and Envy PCs sold in ten European countries. The software provides 14 days of free trial access access to millions of tracks from major and independent record labels—the tracks keep working as long as the users are in their trail period or have an active subscription; subscribers can also download and keep MP3 versions of ten tracks a month in MP3 format.

“Omnifone is proud to partner with HP, the world’s largest PC manufacturer, to deliver MusicStation to consumers on millions of PCs in 10 countries across Europe,” said Omnifone CEO Rob Lewis, in a statement. “The HP rollout sees MusicStation Desktop preinstalled on multiple HP PCs, available in 7 languages with each territory featuring an individually tailored music catalogue from Omnifone’s roster of over 6.5 million tracks.”

The software will be preloaded on the “entire range” of new HP Pavilion, Compaq Presario, and HP Envy models on sale in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The music service will cost €9.99 a month in most of those countries, CHF14.95 per month in Switzerland, 99SEK a month in Sweden, and £8.99 a month in the UK.

Where music subscription services have traditionally struggled in the North American market, they’ve done comparatively well in Europe, where consumers seem more willing to pay a fixed fee for all-they-can-eat access to a massive music catalog rather than owning individual tracks. In the United States, consumers seem to want to purchase individual tracks and albums and own them forever, without any ongoing subscription required to keep tracks working. Subscription services also operate via digital rights management technology to control playback, meaning the files aren’t compatible with a broad range of devices…and something could always go wrong with the software and services, such as when online music services go under and shut off their authentication servers.