V Cast Music: Simply Playing Catch-up?

CNet says Verizon Wireless will launch its wireless music service in January. What I've read about the service so far seems to indicate that the company is simply playing catch-up to rivals rather than planning to unveil any unique features.
Olga Kharif

CNet is reporting that the long-awaited Verizon Wireless music service is nearly here. That's great and everything, but I'd like to point out that, actually, most industry insiders expected the service to launch in time for the holidays. It didn't. And, today, Verizon Wireless is months behind some major rivals' mobile music efforts.

Today, Verizon Wireless only offers music phones, similar to Rork that Motorola, Apple and Cingular launched to much fanfare in September. Only, unlike Rork, Verizon's music phones don't easily work with iTunes, the service that's used by the lion's share of digital music downloaders. And while Cingular made a big deal of the service, Verizon hasn't made much noise about its phones so far.

In rolling out a service allowing for over-the-air music downloads, Verizon is clearly behind Sprint. And while Verizon says its service's features will be more exciting than Sprint's, I've got to see that to believe it.

What I've read about the new service so far seems to be a rerun of what Sprint or Cingular offer already. Sure, the new music service will allow not just for over-the-air music downloads but also for transfering music between Windows-based PCs and mobile phones. But Sprint users can already do that.

Perhaps Verizon, which developed the feature together with Microsoft, is going to make the process more seamless. That would be very valuable.

Perhaps the service will also be less choosy than Sprint's in terms of the types of music files it can play on cell phones. Sprint's service can't play certain music files formatted for the PC.

I hope that's the case, and that Verizon will introduce some unique capabilities rather than simply play catch-up.