Cellular companies have been hampered by their inexperience as middlemen between consumers and producers of music, videos and other content. Their high-speed networks can’t yet guarantee constant connections. And equipment is expensive. Thus far, less than 1% of U.S. cellphone users have shelled out hundreds of dollars for phones fancy enough to access the most advanced entertainment.
What’s more, the price of the content provided by cellular companies remains steep. Sprint charges $2.50 to deliver a song to a handset, and Verizon Wireless charges $1.99. Apple Computer Inc.’s iTunes Music Store charges only 99 cents, and its songs can be downloaded by computer to some Cingular Wireless cellphones, netting Cingular nothing. Sprint says customers are willing to pay more to be able to download songs anywhere.