Coming soon to a RIM (RIMM) BlackBerry near you: a DRM-free, over-the-air music store — something even Apple’s (AAPL) iPhones don’t have.
At South By Southwest in Austin, Toronto-based Puretracks is showing off its new mobile music store for BlackBerry smartphones. It’s in limited beta right now, but will launch on April 1 at the CTIA Wireless trade show in Vegas. Puretracks has a distribution deal with EMI and some indie labels right now, and is looking to sign on another of the three remaining major labels — Sony BMG, Warner Music (WMG) Universal Music Group — this month.
How does the store work? Fairly similar to the iPhone’s wi-fi music store, but over your BlackBerry’s cellular data connection. DRM-free tracks are 99 cents each, and can be offloaded from your phone onto your computer.
One potential drawback: Puretracks uses a relatively low bit rate for its tracks, which means they might not sound as good on good headphones or speakers. And the tracks come in the AAC file format instead of MP3, which means they might not play on as many devices. The upshot: Smaller files will transfer faster over the cellular network.
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