Vodafone Pulls the Plug on DRM, Will Others Follow?

dell takes a slice at apple with super thin latitude z dellz closed

Telecommunications giant Vodafone has announced an agreement with three of the four major music distributors—EMI, Universal Music,and Sony BMG—to offer music in DRM-free MP3 format for both mobile phones and PCs. The deals mark the first time a mobile operator has made a broad offer of DRM-free music; if successful, it could be the beginning of the end of DRM-protected tracks from mobile music stores, just as DRM is rapidly vanishing from the download-to-own digital music market.

And in a move that’s sure to appeal to Vodafone’s existing mobile music customers, users who already purchased music in WMA format that’ll be available as DRM-free MP3s can update to the MP3 version for no extra charge, within current download allowances.

Vodafone expects the DRM-free music tracks will be available throughout a number of countries served by Vodafone by mid-2009.

“Music is central to many of our customers’ lives,” said Vodafone Internet services director Pieter Knook, in a statement. “By Vodafone pioneering DRM free on mobile and offering MP3s on PC, they will now have the freedom to download tracks from their favourite artists without any device restrictions allowing them to experience their music however they want it, wherever they are.”

Vodafone’s DRM-free service will offer over a million tracks spanning a wide range of music genres, and users will be able to transfer the DRM-free songs to virtually any music-capable device without having to worry about sideloading, synchronizing, or authorization.