Remember the Siemens-built, O2 Digital Music Player? Nope, didn't think so. Capable of downloading music on the move, it sank without a trace after minimal sales. Now MusicGremlin is about to have another crack at portable downloading – and this one might just work.
Gremlin has a number of advantages over its German forebear. Firstly, the method of getting tracks. It uses Wi-Fi rather than clumsy infra-red to a mobile phone. Second, audio quality. With tracks transferred over broadband rather than glacially slow GPRS, there's no need to limit the quality to keep file sizes down.
Thirdly, this isn't a single device but a service that can be licensed on any player. With MusicGremlin and suitable wireless hardware, any manufacturer can produce a device – such as the concepts pictured above – capable of hooking up to the company's music store, downloading a track and storing it on the player, no PC required.
We'll see the full service demonstrated at the CES gadget show in January but until then there are some tantalising details. Take, for example, the ability to exchange playlists, song recommendations and messages with other users. It may even be possible to legally share tracks (subject to evil corporate conglomerates' approvals).
The drawback, of course, that you have to be near a hot spot to use the service. Roll on city-wide Wi-Fi.