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!