When AT&T first announced plans to acquire Cricket Communications, I wondered what would happen to its wildly popular Muve Music subscription service. My hope was that AT&T would keep it, but my gut said it wasn't long for this world. (See Will AT&T Muve to the Music?)
Looks like the gut never lies. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) plans to discontinue the prepaid brand's subscription music service, according to a report in the New York Times. Sources tell the publication that a bidding process has begun to sell the service to another company.
AT&T didn't respond to our request for comment, but a spokeswoman tells the NY Times that "after a careful review, we've decided to explore alternative music options to Muve. For now, nothing changes for our Muve customers. They'll continue to enjoy their Muve experience at this time, as we evaluate alternative music options."
The writing was on the wall for Muve ever since AT&T announced its intentions, made more clear when SVP and Head of Muve Music Jeff Toig left the company in September to be the chief business officer at SoundCloud.
It's still a disappointment though. Muve is one of the most successful mobile music services around and, without a doubt, the most successful one offered by a wireless operator. The cost of Muve was bundled into data plans and used as a way to upsell customers to higher tiers. Customers were allowed unlimited downloads, and it quickly racked up more than two million users by last fall. (See Cricket Revamps Data Plans With Muve Music, In Response to Leap's New Plans – Cricket's, and Cricket's 3G-Friendly Mobile Tunes.)
This may not be the last we hear of Muve, however. AT&T already has a deal in place with Beats Music to sell subscriptions to its music service, which explains the decision to sell Muve. But Beats also hasn't performed that well in the mobile market, so it's possible Muve is an attractive purchase for it. If that deal did happen, AT&T and Cricket customers would get the best of both worlds. (See AT&T Brings Beats Music to Families.)
At least I hope that is the case. When it closed the deal to acquire Cricket in March, AT&T promised to support Cricket's customers and the prepaid market, in general. Shutting down their most popular and affordable service seems like a bad way to start, unless the alternative sounds just as good. (See FCC Green-Lights AT&T's Leap Buy.)
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading