Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Sony’s Music Unlimited vs Spotify: the Battle for Streaming takes off

Sony’s release of its Apple (iOS) compatible Music Unlimited streaming service, intended to challenge Spotify’s iPhone app, is a natural and welcome step in line with changing customer music needs and behaviours. Streaming is the future for all forms of digital entertainment, and music is leading the charge.

But I think Sony is missing a trick here. They offer two subscription packages: $3.99/month for listening to pre-determined channels (radio-style?) and $9.99 for access to Sony’s music library consisting of 15 million songs. Spotify’s catalogue has long surpassed 15 million, but more importantly, there is no clear incentive for any one customer group to switch to Music Unlimited.

As I have argued before, Spotify’s finest trick was to get people hooked in the first place by offering free music access. Consumers do not appreciate the value of technological innovation until they’ve tried it themselves. There are high barriers to adoption in place, and only a truly motivating and appealing incentive will push people to give new technology a go – and therefore fully experience the benefits that innovation offers.

Sony is not offering any such incentive. There is no free service to get customers to buy in, so Music Unlimited will struggle to convert iTunes/CD people to streaming. And for those of us who are with Spotify – well, there are no clear benefits to switching. And switching is a pain in itself.

One thing’s for sure: the Battle of Streaming has only just begun.
Sony's Music Unlimited

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