updated 08:35 am EDT, Thu June 12, 2008
Orange Musique Max
France's Orange today said it had launched Musique Max, a new hybrid desktop and mobile music store. The service offers music from all four major labels, plus independents, with an emphasis on French artists. The company claims the store is centered around an unlimited subscription but institutes an eMusic-like maximum song download limit per month; users can download as many as 500 songs as part of a €12 ($19) monthly subscription but are charged 99 Euro cents per track for every download past that point.
The provider hopes to separate its service from other similar subscriptions or mobile services by making downloads permanent. Any songs downloaded during the subscription period will remain after the subscription ends, addressing complaints about past services that render music unplayable when the subscription ends. Orange also notes that it has no contracts and that users can back out of the service at any time.
However, the French carrier has at least temporarily backtracked on hopes for a protection-free music service and chooses to use locked Windows Media files. Songs can be played on both computers and cellphones but are limited to a maximum of five PCs and five portable devices authorized at any given time; the move locks out non-Windows PCs as well as a large number of portable players, including iPods as well as the iPhone offered by Orange itself.
The telecoms company earlier this year said it had considered digital rights management (DRM) a setback for its music plans, which would ideally serve the iPhone as well as every other media-capable device on the Orange network. The company had also considered switching to a streaming-only service that would support a wider range of cellphones than Windows Media but would prevent potentially illegal copying.