Research in Motion Ltd. wants to gain back some of the market ground that the BlackBerry manufacturer has lost in recent months, and part of its strategy may be to attract younger listeners with a new service called BBM Music.
According to Wall Street Journal sources, RIM is currently working on integrating the new music service with its popular BlackBerry Messenger system, to allow listening to music and sharing songs with friends. Development is apparently advanced enough for RIM to launch BBM Music as soon as next week.
Although the maximum number of songs is said to be about 50 at a time, the cost of the BBM Music service will also be proportionally lower than the $10 per month than the pay tier of subscription-based music services such as Rhapsody or Spotify -- both of whom currently lack a BlackBerry-based app. A proprietary BBM Music app would join Pandora and Amazon MP3 on the list of music players and services currently available at BlackBerry App World.
While the sources (who reportedly have discussed it with RIM executives) say that BBM Music is not meant to compete with iTunes or Spotify, the move is almost certainly meant to help the company's BlackBerry smartphones compete against Apple's iPhone and phones using Google Inc.'s Android operating system. One of the obvious selling points of both iOS and Android OS competitors is that those devices tend to offer a much wider range of apps, multimedia or otherwise. Showing a renewed interest in developing and integrating things like games and social applications such as FourSquare, RIM's recent strategy has emphasized making BBM available as an open development platform.
Boasting over 45 million users, the popularity of the company's BBM instant message service remains one of RIM's strongest points in the face of falling share prices, loss of market share, and general investor and consumer wariness -- not to mention its current negative association with the UK's BlackBerry Riots, which led to unwelcome media coverage of the use of BlackBerry Messenger among rioters.
The unnamed sources say that the four major record labels -- Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and EMI Music -- have already signed on with RIM or are close to doing so.
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