DRM-free mobile music looks set to become a reality for European subscribers to Orange. The company is the first mobile operator to follow the trend already established by almost every music retailer in ditching DRM for music downloads.
The company's product development director for mobile music, Brenda O'Connell, said that it was Orange's intention to drop DRM this year to enable the company to offer a truly interoperable service linked with network access. "The DRM ecosystem on the mobile and on the PC is fundamentally different; getting them to talk together to create a seamless experience was a huge amount of work. We want to launch not only a la carte services but subscription-based services, rental models. DRM is what's holding us back at this point."
This move was announced at the music industry's annual get-together in Cannes, France, where cell phones are becoming central to the future well-being of the music business. The handset is now the world's best-selling portable music device--even if most people don't play tunes on their phone. Nokia shipped nearly 150 million music phones last year.