Sony's new music service challenges Apple's dominance

Sony Corp. has launched a music streaming service designed to promote sales of its consumer electronics products and, at the same time, compete with Apple in the online music sector.

Sony unveiled its new "Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity," a cloud-based digital-music service that offers access to about six million songs on major recording labels, including Warner Music, EMI Music, Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, as well as a number of leading independent labels.

The new service is initially being launched in Britain and Ireland, but will rapidly be expanded to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, New Zealand and the United States in the early months of 2011, the company said.

Through the new service, music-lovers can use a wide array of Internet-connected Sony devices - including 2010 models of the network-enabled Bravia television, Blu-ray Disc players, Blu-Ray Disc Home Theater systems, Vaio computers and even the PlayStation3 computer entertainment system. The company expects to expand those platforms to include Sony's portable devices, as well as Android-based mobile devices.

The service is an extension to the "Video on Demand powered by Qriocity," which was released in the U.S. in April and subsequently expanded around the world.

"As we continue to expand Qriocity globally, these services 'powered by Qriocity' offer a single ID log-in and wallet solution, and empower users to easily consume content, including music and video across a growing number of integrated devices," Kazuo Hirai, president of the company's Networked Products and Services Group, said in a statement.

"Seamless accessibility to content through these fresh user experiences will enrich Sony's network service offerings and continually add value to the unique aspects of Sony's network-enabled products," he said.

The new Sony service does not require the user to download songs, as with Apple's iTunes system, which was introduced in 2001 and has become a global hit service.

Sony is also trying to differentiate itself by enabling the basic plan to permit unlimited forward skipping of songs to ensure the user to listen to his or her favourite music, with Sony describing it as "an infinite, ad-free radio station," with subscribers able to listen to dozens of personalised channels categorised by genre or era.

The basic package costs £3.99 in Britain and €3.99 in Ireland per month, while the Premium package is £9.99 and €9.99 in Ireland.

JR

 

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