Sony Dives Into Subscription Music, Misses the Point

By  |  Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at 9:43 am

Sony’s “Music Unlimited Powered By Qriocity” doesn’t roll off the tongue like MOG, Rdio, Rhapsody or Zune Pass, but it’s essentially the same subscription music service — with one major drawback.

The streaming music service launches today in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and next year in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and New Zealand. For 4 pounds per month, users get ad-free radio with personalized stations and categories, kind of like Pandora. For 10 pounds per month, Music Unlimited Powered By Qriocity (MUPbQ?) adds on-demand access to more than 6 million songs, playlists and all.

Here’s the problem: For now, the service is tied to Sony devices, such as Bravia TVs and Blu-ray players and the Playstation 3. An Android app is supposedly in development, but getting on a smartphone platform doesn’t solve Sony’s problem.

With Qriocity, Sony is trying to mimic iTunes. That is, it wants to become a big multimedia presence in hopes of selling more hardware. It’s the opposite of the Pandora approach, which is to support as much hardware as possible in hopes of making the software more attractive.

Sony inherently cannot shoot for widespread hardware support with Qriocity. You’re not going to see it on connected TVs from LG or Samsung, or on other game consoles. I doubt you’ll see it on the iPhone or Windows Phone 7.

For this reason, I’ll continue to recommend platform-agnostic music services, like MOG or Rdio, over those that are tied to one company’s hardware, such as Zune Pass and MUPbQ. Granted, subscription music startups haven’t hit televisions or set-top boxes in full force (A few exceptions: MOG on Roku boxes, Rhapsody on TiVo and Vizio TVs), but they stand a better chance of being picked up by lots of hardware companies than a service from one rival manufacturer.

Of course, if you happen to own a lot of Sony products already, and plan to buy more, then perhaps Music Unlimited Powered By Qriocity is for you. Just don’t try saying it three times fast.


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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Jaimee Steele Says:

    Great post! One point of clarification: Rhapsody is available on TiVo, in Vizio TVs and in dozens of other consumer electronics, such as multi-room home audio systems by Sonos, high-end, connected stereo systems and MP3/portable players by Sandisk, HP, Logitech and Phillips.

  2. Renchub Says:

    And Pandora is also On TiVo now.