Plug it in and plug away

A new cellular phone released this month by LG Electronics Canada Ltd. is one of the first to use the 1xRTT high-speed network in Canada, according to the company. The TM-520 tri-mode handset incorporates three different forms of analogue and digital services, and features s “plug-in back” which can be used to connect a computer for wireless Internet services. The phone also offers access to the Web through its MiniBrowser, and its personal information management functionality provides a scheduler and address book which can be synchronized with a PC. The handset also features: voice dialing, recording and memo; short messaging service (SMS); and CMX midi ringer. The phone is priced at approximately $249.

Going once…going twice…

Coca-Cola Ltd. recently launched its Web site, featuring once-in-a-lifetime auction items. A cashless site powered by edeal Services Corp., the Coke auction works through “Coke Credits,” which drinkers get when they buy a Coca-Cola product. Users collect PIN numbers from behind the labels of “participating” products, visit the Web site and enter their PIN to activate their Coke Credits. There are daily items to bid on, including products such as video games and CD players, but the site also features “Weekly WOW Items.” This section features the opportunity to bid on things like a shopping spree in Paris, Milan and New York; a trip to the Grammy Awards; a New Zealand Adventure; or a trip to the Montreal Canadiens’ training camp. Auction cards – which also offer credits – are also available at select retail chains which sell Coca-Cola products. Users are asked to keep all receipts as proof of purchase, which might be needed if they win an auction.

Down with download prices

Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group announced this month that they both plan to cut their pricing on music downloads, and will also add new features to their respective offerings. The companies are aiming to turn around potential customers, who may have previously shied away from high download prices and instead resorted to free file swapping. Universal Music Group’s summer offerings will cost US$0.99 per single track or US$9.99 per album for both new releases and older offerings. Universal offers its music through its partnership with Liquid Audio, a Redwood City, Calif.-based distributor of digital music. (Liquid Audio delivers through retailers such as Sony, meanwhile, will be offering burning capabilities as well as a drop in price from US$1.99 to US$1.49. Sony has been offering its digital music for download for approximately two years through partners such as RioPort. While the news from the two companies is great for Internet users – and could translate into lower prices across the board – it may not be so great for traditional music retailers. They fear users will stick to the Net and aviod the physical store.

P2P gets Morphed

Saying that it is taking longer than anticipated to roll out its newfangled Morpheus 2.0 peer-to-peer (P2P) file swapping software, StreamCast Networks Inc. released an interim update to the current Morpheus Preview Edition earlier this month. The upgrade, dubbed Morpheus 1.9, boasts a host of new features that set it apart from the current version, which was rapidly cobbled together when the company switched from the FastTrack P-to-P technology platform to the open-source Gnutella platform last March. The switch came after more than a million of Morpheus users were shut out of the Morpheus network in what the company called a massive denial-of-service (DOS) attack. The latest version of the software gives evidence to the new direction the company hopes to take the P-to-P application with the 2.0 version, making it a cornerstone on which to build other services and applications. Morpheus 1.9 includes a chat client, dubbed Morpheus Messenger, which is compatible with America Online Inc.’s (AOL) Instant Messenger (AIM). Additionally, a Plus version of the messenger offers full-motion video conferencing for a fee of US$9.95 for three months, or US$24.95 a year. The new software also includes Morpheus Shopping Club, an e-commerce platform that offers users cash rewards when they make purchases with the company’s retail partners. StreamCast, formerly known as MusicCity Networks Inc., did not say when the 2.0 version would be rolled out, or what other services and features it had up its sleeve.