RIM launches new BBM Music service

Saturday, August 27, 2011

RIM launches new BBM Music service

Research In Motion Ltd. plans to roll out a new social music sharing service that will enable BlackBerry users to access and share songs using the company's BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) as part of the Waterloo, Ont., company's ongoing efforts to increase its appeal to Main Street consumers.

BlackBerry Messenger is ready to rock - with a little help from your friends.

RIM launched a closed beta trial of the service - dubbed BBM Music - on Thursday in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, with plans to bring the new initiative to 15 markets, including Canada, before the end of the year.
The service is expected to cost $4.99 US per month, however RIM said pricing will vary between markets. RIM has not released a specific date for a full public launch.

For RIM, BBM Music represents the company's latest effort to use the popularity of BBM - the instant messaging service that is available only on BlackBerry devices and now has more than 45 million users - to broaden the appeal of its BlackBerry devices beyond its core base of business users and re-establish itself as a top-tier smartphone powerhouse capable of challenging rivals Apple Inc., Google Inc. and Samsung Group Ltd.

Over the past several years, RIM has placed BBM at the centre of its marketing efforts and its overall strategy to appeal to Main Street consumers. A music service would expand BBM's influence by enabling users to go beyond sending short text messages and photos to one another, and discover new music based on the musical tastes of their friends.

Earlier this year, RIM began allowing third-party developers to build elements of BBM into games and other applications that run on BlackBerry devices.

For BBM Music, RIM has brokered global licensing deals with each of the four major record labels - Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music group and EMI - and plans to have more than 10 million songs available to users at launch.

BBM Music users will be able to select up to 50 songs to upload to their profile that they can then share with the friends on their BBM contact list (users can change 25 songs per month). Users will be also be able to listen to the songs uploaded to the profiles of their friends.

"It's inherently social and it's built from the ground up to be a social service," Alistair Mitchell, RIM's vice-president of BBM platform and integrated services, said in an interview Wednesday.

"It's not a music service that has a few social attributes added to it. It essentially allows you to discover and share music with your friends on BBM and do it in a highly interactive and social way."

Once a song is played, it is "cached" - temporarily stored locally - on the user's BlackBerry, which allows the song to be played even when a user is offline without access to a Wi-Fi or cellular connection, such as when they're on a subway or airplane.

Users will be able to cache songs from the playlists of their friends, enabling users to store more than their allotted 50 songs on their device.

There will also be a feature that enables users to purchase MP3s of songs they want to download and own permanently, which will be facilitated through third-party services.

According to RIM officials, the number of songs a user can store on their device is limited only by the size of the memory card in their BlackBerry and the number of friends on their BBM list.

Both Apple and Google are in the midst of building out services that will allow music fans to access songs that are stored on the Web and can be accessed through a mobile device. Both Apple's iCloud and Google's Music Beta service will enable users to access their own music that has been uploaded to an online storage hub anywhere they can get a Web connection.

To access BBM Music, users will have to download the latest version of BlackBerry Messenger and have a BlackBerry that is running Black-Berry OS 5, OS 6 or OS 7.