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December 21, 2004

HMV Group joins the digital downloading market with the help of Microsoft

HMV Group Plc, a UK retailer of music, videos and books, is to team up with Microsoft Corporation to launch a digital downloading service in the second half of 2005.

By CBR Staff Writer

HMV intends to deliver range authority and value for money through its new service, and will employ Microsoft for its capability to develop consumer-friendly software for the widest possible online community.

The applications being developed for HMV’s music downloading service include a customised Jukebox, which will enable HMV digital music customers to find, buy and manage their music online all in one place. The software and hardware required to download products from HMV will be distributed via HMV UK’s network of 200 stores and online at

Music downloads from HMV will be compatible with the Windows Media Audio standard and therefore usable with over 75 portable players currently in the market. They won’t, however, be usable on iPod from Apple, a rival to Microsoft, which covers a large portion of the digital music player market.

HMV Group, also the owner of Waterstone’s bookshops, expects to invest around GBP10 million to launch the new service, including capital investment, launch marketing and other related expenses.

Commenting on this announcement, Alan Giles, HMV Group Chief Executive, said: We have a unique opportunity to leverage the HMV brand, customer base and our store network to establish a strong position in the newly emerging market for paid-for music downloads.

The move comes at a time when music publishers and stores are increasingly embracing digital technology as more and more people are choosing to download music rather than purchase it in stores. Microsoft entered the market in October with its online store, MSN Music, which enables fans to download songs direct to their mobile phones as well as their PCs.

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