Music downloads on a mobile phone - it's taking off

Jonathan Jowitt, Orange's head of media development, was also at the Mobile Content World show in London, talking about the Orange music service which he and his team helped to launch in the summer of 2004.

Since the service was launched, it has gone from strength to strength, with the initial cluster of nine music-friendly handsets rising to 25 and the service offering vast quantities of music for download, as well as discographies on more than 200 artists.

One of the biggest issues Orange has with mobile music is digital rights management (DRM) because, as Jowitt points out, it's all very well allowing a download of a track, but the record company wants to retain control of that track on the user's mobile.

What's interesting about Orange - and Jowitt is quite straight on the issue (it helps that he's an ex-musician and recording engineer) - is that Orange locks each track download to a user's mobile, but can also enable that track to be moved to another mobile if required.

The reason for this, as Jowitt points out, is that users upgrade their mobile handset every so often.

In addition, as the codecs improve, Orange wants to upgrade the user's mobile phone music codec, and that involves tweaking the DRM settings.

Overall, I have to admit I was impressed with Jowitt's - and Orange's - approach to DRM. It isn't draconian, and the company does appear to recognise that users will need to move their music between mobiles, and that not everyone is a music thief...