Cricket Communications, a subsidiary of Leap Wireless (NAS: LEAP) , announced its first Muve Music-enabled Android phone. The service, available for $65 a month, brings Leap's unlimited music option to prepaid smartphones.
Cricket launched Muve Music's unlimited music offering for feature phones earlier this year for $55 per month. The new service will allow users who purchase the new Samsung Vitality, operating on the Android 2.3 Gingerbread platform, or another Android-powered phone Cricket to download an unlimited number of full-track downloads of their choosing directly to the phone. The service includes unlimited text, talk and web.
Leap has managed to double the number of Muve users to 200,000 in just two months.
"We saw within our customer base a real love of music but weren't having a very good experience with digital music services. That became a unique opportunity to do something innovative in the space with the customers that had never been done for," said founder and general manager of Muve Music, Jeff Toig, in an interview with FierceMobileContent.
"The existing digital music world was built for the computer and ported to the phone, not a customer who is enabled for a cash ecosystem," said Toig.
Toig explained that Muve felt confident about moving into the mobile music space after the success it had selling ringtones and saw this as an opportunity for growth. Customers were downloading over 400 songs a month, Toig reported, over Leap's 3G service.
"We created this as a download service, not as a streaming service, because a download service is a better experience and better on the network," said Toig.
Unlike with Apple's iTunes or Amazon's music store, the Muve service does not require a user to have a credit card. The music service is billed as part of the overall wireless service so the "customer feels like it is free in their plan," said Toig.
Following in the footsteps of other music services like Spotify, Muve Music formed partnerships with the major record labels including Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and EMI Music.
Also of note is that Muve's service can be used internationally. Toig confirmed that since music is downloaded directly to the device, usually in 10-20 seconds, rather than streaming from a separate server, the music can be played even in areas without wireless service or in other countries.
"As long as I've got my phone, I've got my service. So if you are paying your bill, you get all your features," explained Toig. "If you have paid your bill on the first day of the month, on the tenth day of the month, your phone will work, even if you are overseas. It's easy."
Leap Wireless competitor, MetroPCS (NAS: PCS) announced an all-you-can-eat ad-free music service in August in partnership with Rhapsody.
"I will say any time a competitor tries to copy your innovation, you know you're onto something good. As a headline, it's flattering that they're rushing to produce something similar," said Toig.
The service plans to launch nationwide later in 2011.
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