Using technology from mSpot, the entertainment platform it acquired earlier this year, Samsung's Hub lets users buy albums and songs from a repository of 19 million and store their own music either in the cloud, for access via five separate devices, or locally for offline listening. A premium version at £9.99 (US$16) per month includes unlimited streaming, personalized radio stations and recommended playlists.
The service is initially available only on the Galaxy S III in Germany, Spain, Italy, France and the U.K., but Samsung plans to bring it to other smartphones in its line-up in the future.
Why this matters
Samsung's biggest competitor in the smartphone space is Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), and Music Hub is clearly Samsung's attempt to challenge the iPhone firm's popular iTunes service. But the success of Music Hub may hinge on Samsung's ability to integrate the service across its product lines, something Apple does well but Samsung, to date, does not, according to Informa Telecoms & Media analyst Giles Cottle.
"The most glaring sign of this is that [Samsung's] Smart TVs and smartphones are still built on completely different operating systems, making true convergence almost impossible," Cottle explains in a research note. "Without this homogenous cross-device experience, Music Hub will simply be another paid-subscription and cloud music service in a market that is already starting to feel more than a little crowded."
Mobile music, once a non-starter, has indeed become crowded with mobile apps such as Spotify and carrier services such as Cricket Communications Inc. 's Muve Music. Samsung is the first handset maker to enter the market (with the exception of Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)'s failed "Comes with Music" service). (See Comes With Carriers?)
That also means music could be catching up to video as a data hog for wireless operators. Samsung says the Music Hub is optimized for mobile in that it saves storage space, can play music offline and cut down on cellular data usage, but its local storage and streaming options could pose new challenges to the wireless operators. (See Samsung's New Galaxy: A Data Hog Approaches.)
- Cricket's 3G-Friendly Mobile Tunes
- Etisalat Offers Music Streaming App
- Google Makes Music With T-Mobile
- RIM Ties Music to BlackBerry Messenger
- MetroPCS Taps Rhapsody for Unlimited Music
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile