As the founders of Skype announce a new mobile music service, we take a look at the mobile music market. As one of the fastest growing and most controversial areas of mobile, is there really room for one more?
What’s the story?
After thrashing the hell out of mobile operators all over the world, and taking eBay for a ride in the heist of the century, Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis are looking for new worlds to conquer. And they’ve decided on mobile music.
According to Bloomberg, they have announced a new service called Rdio. It will be available as an app on smartphones (initially iPhone and Blacberry), and for a monthly subscription, users will be able to stream tracks to their device. All the songs will be stored in the cloud, and beamed to a users phone as they desire. It allows the phone to become an infinite playlist, without ever taking up any storage space on the device itse… wait, does this sound familiar?
You might have heard of Spotify. Or Rhapsody. Or Pandora. Each of these offers a similar service to Rdio. In some cases, an identical service. Spotify has been buying server space and moving into the States. Rhapsody has the backing of sound merchants Dolby.
And then you’ve got to consider that Google is probably going to enter this field pretty soon, with a service that streams music from your computer to your Android. And mSpot has announced a similar service.
What I’m saying is: this is not an empty market.
How is Rdio different?
That’s a question that not even Skype seems able to answer convincingly. They’ve made some noise about their marketing and promotion approach being their ace-in-the-hole, but in terms of the SERVICE, I think we can expect a carbon copy of already available products.
What we think?
Let’s look at two recent reports.
The first comes from comScore, and says that people love playing music on their mobile. It also says that people don’t like buying and downloading music to their device – they prefer to sideload from a PC or stream it.
The second is from AccusStream Research. It claims that the amount of time spent by consumers listening to streaming music is set to rise 15% this year alone. According to the report, it rose 9% in 2009, and is expected to rise a further 22% in 2011.
What does this tell us? It seems extremely likely that streaming mobile music is going to be a steadily growing area over the next few years. Despite the number of services already available, there will almost certainly be room for more. What we’re seeing here is the ground-floor services who are setting up shop before the boom.
Besides which, if Zennstrom and Friis are getting involved, it’s probably going to make them some money. Those guys are sharp.