Stop us if you've heard this one before: a cell phone comes with an unlimited music subscription. Now, flip it on its head and say the cellular carrier was the one offering the all-you-can download audio buffet -- built right into a totally unlimited data, text and voice monthly slate -- and you've basically got the new $55 Muve Music plan from Cricket Wireless. Cricket doesn't have the reach of the big four US carriers and may not even have coverage in your area, but that didn't keep it from tempting Universal, Warner, Sony and EMI from signing over millions of songs. It'll debut on the new Samsung Suede featurephone pictured at right, which comes with a "special" 4GB Sandisk encrypted flash memory card (et tu, slotRadio?) that will likely protect the music from prying pirate claws... at least for the weeks or months it takes the open-source community to rip it a new one.

The Suede will reportedly hold about 3,000 songs, which (barring antics) will be irrevocably tied to the phone and only play there, and disappear entirely if users stop paying for the Muve plan. PC Magazine got a brief hands-on with an early version, and says there's a bit of irksome audio compression, but also some Zune-like social networking features, too. The service will debut at CES on January 6th, and spread to other devices and other markets over the course of 2011. PR after the break!
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Cricket Introduces First Wireless Rate Plan with Unlimited Music Included

Innovative, New Digital Music Service Muve Music™ will Debut at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

2011 International CES

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Cricket Communications Inc., a leading provider of innovative and value-driven wireless services and a wholly owned subsidiary of Leap Wireless International, Inc. (NASDAQ:LEAP), today announced it is the first U.S. wireless carrier to offer consumers unlimited music as part of a new wireless rate plan. This product offering features an innovative new digital music service called Muve Music. It is the first music experience designed specifically for the mobile phone.

"Muve Music is a truly new kind of mobile music experience, and we're excited about its potential to connect fans to the artists they love in a unique and innovative way"

"Cricket was the first to introduce an unlimited wireless rate plan and now we are the first to introduce a new unlimited wireless rate plan that includes unlimited music. With Muve Music, Cricket is bringing together the best of wireless and music in a way no one has ever done before," said Doug Hutcheson, president and chief executive officer of Cricket Communications. "Our recent experience with smartphones has shown us that the right products offered at the right price will be successful with value-oriented customers. We are excited and confident that Muve Music will provide a superior mobile experience for customers who want to create a personal music experience without being tethered to a computer. The result of our collaboration with the music industry during the past two years allows unlimited music downloads, ringtones and ringback tones to be included in a wireless service for a flat monthly rate. We believe the high quality Muve Music experience is the right product at the right time for value oriented customers."

"Muve Music from Cricket is a game changer for everyone," said Ben Bajarin, director of Consumer Technology Practice at Creative Strategies. "By tightly integrating the music service into the handset and the billing plan everyone in the value chain benefits and consumers have a complete music service where the phone is the hub not the PC."

The Muve Music Rate Plan

For just $55 per month, Muve Music customers will get the following features on Cricket's nationwide 3G network:

Unlimited nationwide calling
Unlimited nationwide text, picture & video messaging
Unlimited global text messaging
Unlimited 3G mobile Web
Unlimited email
Unlimited data back up
Unlimited video

And for the first time anywhere in the U.S.

Unlimited full track downloads
Unlimited ringtones
Unlimited ringback tones

With Cricket's Muve Music rate plan, there are no download fees and no monthly music subscriptions. Customers' data plans will not be impacted by streaming music over the wireless network and customers won't be required to use a credit card to purchase music. Unlimited Muve Music is included in the flat rate monthly wireless service plan.

Introducing the Muve Music Service Experience

Two years ago Cricket, in collaboration with key music industry and technology partners, began to create new IP and design a new music experience to meet the needs of customers for whom the phone, not their computer, is the center of their digital life. Muve Music brings the functionality that resides on many online digital music services to the palm of the customer's hand. The service also delivers innovative new features and functionality that only a wireless network and true mobile offering can provide. With Cricket's new service there are no cables, no drivers, no synching and no complexity. Everything happens over Cricket's nationwide 3G network to deliver a robust music experience to music lovers on the go.

Muve Music will have a robust catalog of music content which includes the four major record labels: Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and EMI Music. This ground-breaking new music service and business model was brought about through a unique collaboration, led by Cricket, between the music industry labels, as well as technology partners Samsung Mobile and SanDisk.

"When we first began working with Cricket to model this new service, we quickly realized what a great opportunity it was to develop the first-ever US unlimited music service that comes bundled with a mobile voice, text, and web plan and is fully integrated into the phone itself," stated David Ring, executive vice president of business development and business affairs for Universal Music Group, eLabs. "There has been nothing like this product or business model ever attempted in this country."

"Cricket has developed a very compelling experience for their customers which is extremely well integrated into the device and wireless service plan through a new business model that establishes a great approach to partnership in the mobile music space," said Michael Nash, executive vice president, digital strategy and business development, Warner Music Group. "We're thrilled to work with their talented team and hope their innovative Muve Music service proves to be influential as we continue to work with the wireless industry to transform the way consumers experience music on mobile phones."

"Muve Music is a first-of-its-kind solution for US consumers," said Thomas Hesse, president, global digital business, U.S. sales and corporate strategy, Sony Music Entertainment. "The inclusion of a premium digital music service in the wireless plan is an exciting new opportunity to expand the market for commercial digital music."

"Muve Music is a truly new kind of mobile music experience, and we're excited about its potential to connect fans to the artists they love in a unique and innovative way," said Mark Piibe, executive vice president of global business development, EMI Music.

The Samsung Suede Debuts as the First Muve Music Phone

At launch, Muve Music will be available on the Samsung Suede™ (SCH-r710), marking the unique integration of an innovative new music service and a phone from a leading global handset manufacturer. The Suede is a high-end 3G multi-media device with a full 3-inch touchscreen display, HTML web browser, virtual QWERTY keyboard and an easy-to-navigate user interface. Most notably, it features a dedicated music button, prominently displayed on the front of the device, that takes customers to the Muve Music experience with one touch.

The Muve Music service also includes a new technology solution from SanDisk that's a key part of the service. Muve Music content is downloaded DRM-free over the air to the phone. It is stored and protected on a special flash memory card. This alleviates the need for any cumbersome digital rights management (DRM) scheme and results in a greatly improved user experience, better handset performance and longer battery life.

Muve Music: Meeting the Customers' Needs

Muve Music is Cricket's latest innovation. It had its genesis in 2007 when the Company observed interesting customer behavior surrounding its newly launched basic ringback tone service. Within a few quarters of launch, Cricket was generating more revenue for the music industry from ringback tones than most U.S. wireless carriers even though Cricket had a much smaller customer base. Continued analysis led the Company to conclude that Cricket's customers loved music but they were not having a good music experience thus prompting the development of Muve Music to provide customers with a way to get the music they love on their wireless phones through a flat-rate plan served by a network they can rely upon.

See Muve Music at CES

Muve Music and the Samsung Suede will debut at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, January 6-10, 2011 and can been seen at South Hall 4, upper level, Room S210 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The service will be available in January 2011, at select Cricket company-owned stores and at www.mycricket.com, as well as through select partner retail outlets. The Cricket Muve Music wireless unlimited plan is $55 per month. The Samsung Suede has an M.S.R.P. of $199.

For more information about Muve Music visit www.muvemusic.com and for Cricket's dynamic device lineup, please visit www.mycricket.com.

About Cricket

Cricket is the pioneer of simple and affordable unlimited wireless services with no long-term commitments or credit checks required serving more than 5 million customers in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Cricket offers wireless voice and broadband Internet services over the latest technology, high-quality, all-digital 3G CDMA2000 1X and 1xEV-DO wireless network. Cricket's nationwide wireless voice service plans include unlimited anytime minutes, unlimited U.S. long distance, unlimited text and picture messaging, unlimited text to Mexico, unlimited Mobile Web, unlimited directory assistance, as well as a variety of calling features and feature-rich mobile applications such as popular games, ringtones and wallpapers. Cricket Broadband provides unlimited Internet access anywhere within Cricket's coverage areas at speeds comparable to DSL. For more information on Cricket, visit www.mycricket.com. Cricket is offered by Leap Wireless International, Inc., headquartered in San Diego, Calif. For more information on Leap, visit www.leapwireless.com.

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Cricket launches new wireless plan with unlimited music for $55 a month