Deutsche Telekom prepares iTunes rival; other celcos involved

In an attempt to stave off the slide into becoming a dumb pipe, Deutsche Telekom (DT) has startled the industry by unveiling plans to launch a rival to Apple's iTunes store by year end. The service, which will initially be targeted at smartphone users, is said to have the support of other unnamed companies, including mobile operators.

The proposed music platform is said to build on existing German media platforms Mediaload, Videoload and Gamesload, to offer content including music, video and even newspaper articles. While the early focus will be on mobile devices, those involved with the project are apparently keen to see the service span all the screens - mobile, PCs, TVs and emerging options like in-car systems.

Creating a common media store and user experience, with unified security and personalisation settings plus cloud storage, is said to be a goal of many advanced operators, with Orange probably the frontrunner.

However, DT has been keen to stress that the new service would not just be a revamped shop front for its own customers, but would be the basis of a wholesale store framework that could be branded by a number of rival operators too. This would not only reduce time to market, but could see those involved using their combined weight to negotiate deals with content majors, as well as to create an attractive developer base.

This move, which follows on from the announcement at last month's MWC where operators would look to create a common developer platform under the banner of the Wholesale Application Community, could be bad news for the vendors that are seeking to help operators fight against the dumb pipe. Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Qualcomm and others have recently announced white label frameworks and hosted services which could now be sidelined in favour of an operator-driven initiative.

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