Sony launches subscription music streaming service

Dec 22, 2010 By TOMOKO A. HOSAKA , Associated Press

(AP) -- Sony Corp. on Wednesday launched a music streaming service in a bid to boost sales of its consumer electronics and break Apple's dominance of the online music business.

The Japanese company's "Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity" is a digital music service based on cloud technology that does not involve downloading tracks like Apple's iTunes, which started in 2001.

Instead, a subscription gives users access to a catalog of about 6 million songs, which can be streamed across Sony's Internet-connected devices like the PlayStation 3, personal computers and Bravia TVs. The service can be synchronized with a user's existing music files, including iTunes, Sony said.

The service debuted in the U.K. and Ireland on Wednesday and will be rolled out in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and New Zealand and the U.S. next year. "Music Unlimited" follows the launch this year of an on-demand video service that is now available in the U.S. and several European countries.

For Sony, the two services represent an effort to better integrate the company's consumer electronics with content like music, movies and games in a fiercely competitive market. Sony is banking on Qriocity - its new online entertainment platform announced earlier this year- to help make that happen.

While it remains to be seen whether consumers will embrace the new services, Sony is starting off with a substantial user base through the PlayStation 3. The video game console has more than 60 million users worldwide, and about 80 percent of PS3s are connected to the Web.

In developing its new music service, Sony decided to shift away from downloadable songs, said Kazuo Hirai, executive vice president and head of the company's Networked Products and Services division.

"We realized that if we were playing catch up with the same (iTunes) model, it would be difficult to appeal to users," Hirai told reporters in Tokyo.

Initially, the service is intended to mainly enhance the appeal of its products against competitors like Microsoft Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co.

"But over time, it needs to stand on its own," Hirai said.

The service cannot yet be used on portable devices such as the Walkman or cell phones, though Sony says it plans to eventually integrate those as well.

Since taking over in 2005, Sony's Chief Executive Howard Stringer has been trying to unite the company's sprawling businesses, cut costs and improve efficiency. He promoted Hirai in 2009 in a management shuffle that looks to be paying off.

The company returned to profitability in the July-September quarter and raised its earnings forecast in part due to brisk sales of the PS3. Its stock has risen about 11 percent this year, outpacing a 2 percent fall in the benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average.

Hirai said his company is on pace to meet its goal of selling 15 million PS3 consoles this fiscal year through March, and expects the games division to finish in the black.

Launched in September, the PlayStation Move motion-sensing game controller has been a big holiday hit so far, exceeding Sony's own expectations. The company said in late November that it had shipped 4.1 million Move units to retailers worldwide.

Explore further: US Congress decriminalizes cellphone unlocking

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sony Music back catalog comes to eMusic

Jun 01, 2009

Sony Music Entertainment and eMusic announced on Monday that songs from Sony's back catalog would be available later this year through the online music store.

HP launches digital music venture in Europe

Jan 25, 2010

(AP) -- Hewlett-Packard Co. said Monday it was partnering with U.K. mobile music startup Omnifone Ltd. to launch a subscription music service on its personal computers in Europe, moving into a market dominated by Apple Inc.'s ...

BSkyB says to launch online music service

Oct 12, 2009

British pay-TV giant BSkyB said Monday it will launch an online music service next week which offers consumers access to more than four million tracks, rivalling Apple's iTunes.

Sony Ericsson to offer Walkman cellphones

Feb 14, 2005

Sony Ericsson announces its mobile music strategy for 2005 including the integration of high quality digital music players into stylish mobile phones under the world famous Walkman brand. This will create a compelling consumer ...

Recommended for you

Scalping can raise ticket prices

20 hours ago

Scalping gets a bad rap. For years, artists and concert promoters have stigmatized ticket resale as a practice that unfairly hurts their own sales and forces fans to pay exorbitant prices for tickets to sold-out concerts. ...

Study shows role of media in sharing life events

Jul 24, 2014

To share is human. And the means to share personal news—good and bad—have exploded over the last decade, particularly social media and texting. But until now, all research about what is known as "social sharing," or the ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Dually
not rated yet Dec 25, 2010
But PS3 already will play any media files in your network, so what do they mean by "streaming"?

I think a much better idea would be a PS3 Pandora app since so many folks already subscribe to Pandora which already works on your smartphones and tablets.