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Browsing, marking and/or purchasing media items according to several of the embodiments detailed in this application may be accomplished by using a browser application such as a WAP browser (not shown). Additionally, portable wireless device 305 contains one or more of the following (not shown): one or more speakers, a microphone, a headphone jack, a port for connecting with a transfer device (e.g., FireWire. or USB port), one or more slots to accept flash memory cards (e.g., CompactFlash (CF) or SmartMedia (SM) cards), and one or more antennae or ports used to connect to a local networks, for example, Bluetooth, infrared (IR), or WiFi (IEEE 802.11). Contained within portable wireless device 305 is system memory (not shown), which may include both volatile and nonvolatile memory and, optionally, a hard drive (not shown).
Techniques for interacting with an online media store using a first device to identify a digital media item of interest to a user of the first device, using the first device to store an interest indicator for the digital media item of interest at the online media store, and subsequently interacting with the online media store using a second device to purchase or preview the digital media item of interest as identified by the interest indicator. Additionally, ring tones and graphics associated with the digital media item of interest can also be purchased.
The present invention relates to the purchasing of digital media items and, more specifically, to the use of a portable wireless device to identify and/or purchase digital media items.
Summary of the invention
The invention pertains to techniques for identifying and/or purchasing digital media items by using a wireless non-transfer device (a "portable wireless device"). These techniques can allow a user of a portable wireless device to identify a digital media item on an online media store and mark it for download. The digital media item may then be downloaded at a later time when the user is able to connect to the online media store with a transfer device, typically a personal computer (e.g., a `host computer`). The digital media item can be purchased using either the non-transfer device or the transfer device. Digital media items available for purchase and download can include a variety of media file types, including audio (e.g., MP3, MP4, AAC, WAV, etc.), video (AVI, QuickTime, etc.), electronic book (eBook), as well as others. Digital media items can include music singles and music videos, for example. Additionally, ring tones and graphics associated with the digital media item can also be purchased.
The invention can be implemented in numerous ways, including as a method, system, device, apparatus, graphical user interface, or computer readable medium. Several embodiments of the invention are discussed below.
In one embodiment of the invention, a portable wireless device interacts with an online media store via a network, typically a cellular network, to select a digital media item of interest, which is marked for later review or purchase. Subsequent to this interaction, a second device, for example a personal computer connected to the Internet, is used to review the marked digital media item, or to download the marked digital media item if it has already been purchased.
In another embodiment of the invention, a list of available digital media items is obtained from an online media store and browsed using a browser application (e.g., a WAP browser) or a media management application (MMA) running on a portable wireless device. The browser or MMA is then used to purchase one or more digital media items from the online media store. The purchased media items are marked for later download to a second device, for example a personal computer connected to the Internet.
Depending on the bandwidth available and the media playback capabilities of the portable wireless device, digital media items downloaded to the portable wireless device can include telephone ring-tones, music files, art graphics, and video files.
Other aspects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.
Random excerpts from the patent
Non-transfer devices, in the context of this invention, are cellular phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and other similar portable wireless devices that have wireless access. Typically, non-transfer devices are not used for storage, transfer, or playback of digital media items, although many such devices do have limited playback capabilities.
Media management applications (MMAs) or media players, in the context of this invention, include software applications that typically incorporate the ability to do one or more of the following: play, browse, organize, purchase, and/or transfer digital media items between devices, including to portable media players (e.g., MP3 or MPEG4 players).
Media Purchase System
FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a multi-device media purchase system 100 according to one embodiment of the invention. The multi-device media purchase system 100 includes an online media store server 102. The online media store server 102 stores a plurality of available digital media items that can be purchased via client devices over a network. As shown in FIG. 1, the multi-device media purchase system 100 includes a first client device 104 and a second client device 106.
The first client device 104 is a wireless device that couples to a low-bandwidth network 108 (e.g., wireless network). The low-bandwidth network 108 in turn couples to a gateway 110 that links the low-bandwidth network 108 to a high-bandwidth network 112 (e.g., wired network). As an example, the high-bandwidth network 112 can generally be referred to as a wide area network or the Internet. The second client device 106 couples to the high-bandwidth network 112. Additionally, the online media storage server 102 couples to the high-bandwidth network 112. In one implementation, the low-bandwidth network 108 can refer to a low data-bandwidth wireless network, such as current cellular telephone networks, and the high-bandwidth network 112 can refer to high data-bandwidth networks, namely, wired networks, such as Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, and fiber optic, as well as wireless networks such as IEEE 802.11(a)(b) or (g) (WiFi), IEEE 802.16 (WiMax), and Ultra-Wide Band (UWB).
According to the invention, a user at the first client device 104 can interact with the online media store server 102 via the low-bandwidth network 108 and the high-bandwidth network 112. In this way, the user at the first client device 104 can browse, preview, mark or purchase one or more digital media items available on the online media store server 102. The mark or purchase operations usually require the user to first identify one or more digital media items of interest. The identified digital media item(s) of interest can then be marked (for review or for purchase) or purchased. Typically, however, the first client device 104 is a device that does not desire to have the identified digital media item(s) downloaded from the online media store server 102 to the first client device 104 via the low-bandwidth network 108, but rather to another device. Downloading of digital media items over the low-bandwidth network 108 can be slow and costly given that the file size of the digital media items tend to be large.
Client side digital media item reservation system
FIG. 4A illustrates a flow diagram of a client-side digital media item reservation process 400 according to one embodiment of the invention. This embodiment uses a Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) compatible browser or another application suitable for wireless interaction with an online media store. Client-side digital media item reservation process 400 begins with decision 401, which determines if at least one suitable application is available (e.g., a portable wireless device). Besides a WAP browser, other suitable applications include native (platform dependent) and non-native (platform-independent) applications which either come pre-installed on the device or are installed by the device user. Suitable applications may be obtained and installed using a wide variety of methods. For example, a user can download the application over a computer network (or copy it from a removable storage media such as a CD ROM) onto a personal computer and install the application on the client device via a physical link (e.g., a cable) or a wireless connection (e.g., Bluetooth or IR). Alternately, the application can be downloaded over a wireless network (or copied from a removable storage media such as a flash card). Further, the application can be transferred between client devices using a physical link or a wireless connection. Other ways to obtain a suitable application are possible and will readily occur to those skilled in the art.
Returning to FIG. 4A, if decision 401 determines that at least one application suitable for wireless communication with an online media store is available, client-side digital media item reservation process 400 continues with the user starting 403 a suitable application from a list of available applications (if more than one is available). Otherwise, if no suitable application is available, then process 400 ends. Note that, if both a WAP browser and one or more suitable native applications are available, then the user may choose any of them according to his or her preference. Next, a decision 405 determines if the selected application is a WAP browser. If so, the browser is directed 407 to an online media store, for example, directly or by the user selecting a hyperlink or inputting a uniform resource locator (URL).
When discussing native applications for specific portable wireless devices, it is noted that many wireless-enabled PDAs and cellular phones have the capacity to run native applications, thus allowing third-party developers to create applications which more efficiently utilize the capabilities of a particular platform than is possible with a platform-independent application. Examples include cellular phones and PDA's running the Palm OS or Windows operating systems for mobile devices. Other alternatives include portable wireless devices running Nokia Corporation's Symbian OS. Qualcomm's Binary Runtime for Wireless Environment. (BREW.TM.). Many of these portable wireless devices are also able to run non-native (i.e., platform-independent) applications such as, for example, Java applets. It is generally understood, however, by those skilled in the art that non-native software is often less suitable than native software in many situations, such as when the software needs to be able to play media files. This problem is primarily due to limitations in current platform-independent software platforms, which are likely to improve in the foreseeable future. Accordingly, according to this particular embodiment of the invention, native applications are currently preferred over non-native applications. It is foreseeable that non-native applications will soon be well-suited for the purposes of the present invention. Thus, although the use of non-native applications will not be discussed further, it is understood for the purposes of this application that the invention is suitable for use with non-native applications.
A user may prefer to use a native software application over a WAP browser for a variety of reasons. A native application designed specifically for communication with an online media store will likely have an improved user interface, the capability to play a wider variety of media types, improved download and file management, and other advantages which might be lacking in a general-purpose browser application.
Once client-side digital media item reservation process 400 reaches transition `A` (via operation 409, or via decisions 410 or 411), it continues on to operation 450 and subsequent blocks, which are illustrated in FIG. 4B. In particular, client-side digital media item reservation process 400 continues after transition `A`, allowing the user to use the current application, which can be a WAP browser or native software application as described above, to browse 450 a list of available digital media items. In one embodiment of the invention, digital media items available for download from the media store are selected according to a media selection process 500, discussed below in reference to FIG. 5. Digital media item types can include, for example, music singles, music albums, videos, motion pictures, and electronic books (eBooks). Additionally, if the portable wireless device has cellular phone features, the list may include ring tones compatible with the make and model of that particular portable wireless device.
Next, the user selects from a list of choices represented by operations 451 through 465. The list of operations is exemplary only and is not intended to be a comprehensive listing of all possible choices. Other choices may be added without changing the scope of the invention. Also, not all of the operations 451 through 465 need be presented in the list of choices.
Operations 451, 453, 455, 457, and 459 each represent commercial transactions. A user may, for example, choose to mark 451 a digital media item for purchase (e.g., store an interest indicator for the digital media item), purchase 453 a ring tone, purchase 455 an electronic copy of a picture or graphic, or mark 459 a collection of digital media items for purchase.
Marking 451 a digital media item for purchase allows the user to select and pay for a digital media item using the portable wireless device. However, the digital media item is not downloaded to the portable wireless device in this case. Instead, the digital media item is marked by the media store as a purchased digital media item for subsequent download. At some point in the future, when the user logs on to the online media store with a personal computer (transfer device), the media store will alert the user that a previously purchased digital media item is available for download.
Purchasing ring tones
Purchasing 453 a ring tone is an available option for portable wireless devices which incorporate telephone or alarm capabilities. In one embodiment of the invention, ring tones available for download from the media store are selected according to a media selection process 500, discussed below in reference to FIG. 5. Ring tones purchased 453 may be downloaded immediately or at some future time, according to the user's preference. Alternately, ring tones may be automatically downloaded to the portable wireless device during off-peak hours, thus allowing a user who has selected a wireless usage plan that charges less for off-peak downloads to take advantage of cheaper rates without having to complete the purchase 453 during peak hours.
Purchasing 455 an art graphic (e.g., an electronic image such as a JPEG) functions similarly to purchasing 453 a ring tone. However, the user may choose to purchase an art graphic for download to the portable wireless devices or mark the art graphic for download to a personal computer at a later time, much like marking 451 a digital media item for purchase, described above.
Marking 459 a collection of digital media items for purchase functions similarly to the marking in operation 451. However, marking 459 can allow the user to mark multiple items in a collection (e.g., a music album) at the same time. Marking 459 a collection of digital media items might be advantageous to the user in terms of pricing (i.e., a discount for buying multiple items at once). Note that any combination of digital media items may be contained within a collection. For example, a user can purchase a complete package associated with a particular music single which includes the download of a ring tone and a graphic file for the portable wireless device, and the marking of a high quality music file, a high quality graphic, and a high quality music video file for download.
Messages sent 463 to a friend regarding one or more of an available digital media items in the list can be, for example, e-mail messages including text and/or graphics, text messages, or multimedia messages.
If any commercial transaction is selected (including, but not limited to commercial transactions represented by operations 451, 453, 455, and 459), client-side digital media item reservation process 400 continues to operation 467, where the user provides authentication information, such as user name and password, in order to authorize the purchase. Another method of authentication is by directly using a user's cellular phone account information and a personal identification number (PIN). Other known user authentication procedures may also be used. Once any non-commercial transaction is completed (including, but not limited to, non-commercial transactions represented by operations 461, 463, and 465) are performed, process 400 continues to decision 469 and subsequent blocks. Next, decision 469 determines if the user wants to continue browsing and/or shopping. If so, client-side digital media item reservation process 400 returns to perform block 450 and subsequent blocks. If no, process 400 ends.
Patent FIG. 5 illustrates a flow diagram of a media selection process 500 according to one embodiment of the invention. Media selection process 500 serves to produce a subset of digital media items (e.g., the `media selections list`) available from a primary online media store (which is only accessible by personal computers) for use in a secondary online media store (which is typically only accessible by portable wireless devices). This is useful due to the limitations of many portable wireless devices, both in terms of processing/storage and data bandwidth available for downloading. In order to account for these limitations, marketing/sales/licensing criteria are used to determine which digital media items will be available for selection by a user accessing a secondary online media store using a portable wireless device. For instance, the criterion used might be the most popular digital media items available at the online media store. Alternately, a digital media item that is being aggressively marketed may be included in the criteria, in spite of the fact that is not popular. Licensing criteria is included because not every digital media item may be licensed for all media categories. By way of specific example, not every song which is downloadable for playback on a media player may be licensed for download as a ring tone on a cellular phone.
Online media store servers
FIG. 6 is a block diagram of a computing environment 600 according to one embodiment of the invention. The computing environment 600 includes one or more computer servers, including at least one primary online media store server 601, one or more secondary online media store servers, which can be, for example, Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) servers 603, or HTML servers 605. Primary online media store servers 601 are configured to communicate with personal computers 609 via a computer network 613 (e.g., the Internet). Secondary media store servers 603 and 605 are configured to communicate with portable wireless devices 615 (such as cell phones). Additionally, one or more media transcoding servers 607, which are used to convert media file formats, may be connected to computer network 613. Media transcoding servers 607 are used to convert one media format to another. For instance, a file in MP3 format may be transcoded into AAC, WMA, or a ring tone format. Similarly, a music file may be converted into a MIDI file. Alternately, a high quality media file may be converted into a low quality media file.
Typically, computing environment 600 includes a plurality of different personal computers 609, which are connected to at least part of data network 613. Personal computers 609 are typically classified as transfer devices. Portable wireless devices 615 are typically classified as non-transfer devices. Depending on the capabilities of individual portable wireless devices 615, connections will be made to compatible secondary media store servers. For example, some portable wireless devices 615 can only connect to WAP enabled secondary media store servers 603. Other portable wireless devices can only connect to HTML enabled secondary media store servers 605. A third category of portable wireless device can connect to either WAP or HTML servers. A fourth possible category is able to connect directly to primary online media store servers 601. Portable wireless devices of this type are considered transfer devices and are classified as personal computers 609 for the purposes of this application. The various servers 601-607 can be remotely located on multiple computer systems or centrally located on a common computer system.
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