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Microsoft Opens Xbox Music to Competing Devices

Microsoft Opens Xbox Music to Competing Devices
By Jennifer LeClaire

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Xbox Music is a move by Microsoft to stay competitive with platform neutral services such as Spotify, Rdio and Rhapsody while tapping into the large iOS device market as well as the Android market. Apple doesn't have an unlimited music service although it's moving into streaming music with iTunes Radio, according to Reticle analyst Ross Rubin.
 



Nearly a year ago, Microsoft launched Xbox Music for its own platforms. Now, Redmond is taking its all-in-one music service to the masses. The company is just brought Xbox Music to iOS and Android devices, as well as free streaming on Xbox Music via the Web.

Microsoft highlighted a pain point and a solution that it's betting will give Xbox Music an advantage as it spreads its wings: Accessing music across all the different devices people interact with has become complicated. To be sure, consumers are using PCs, laptops, tablets, phones and TVs to access different music services that don't connect with one another.

Xbox Music addresses the issue by combining music offerings with free streaming on the Web and on Windows 8 PCs and tablets, Internet radio, subscription (called Xbox Music Pass), and download-to-own options.

What You Get Now

With the Xbox Music Pass, you can now get unlimited access to the songs and artists on demand with playback across your tablet, PC, phone and Xbox console for $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year.

When you add a song to your collection on your Xbox you'll also have that song on your iOS, Android or Windows 8 device on the go or at the office. Xbox Music Pass also unlocks unlimited access to tens of thousands of music videos on your Xbox 360.

Microsoft rounded out the offer with the addition of free streaming on the Web, which gives you free on-demand access to 30 million on the Xbox Music Web or through the Xbox Music app on all Windows 8 tablets and PCs.

Microsoft Stays Competitive

We asked Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, about Microsoft's latest strategy in the music realm. He told us other companies involved in their own devices have sought to create clients that work on other platforms. As examples, Rubin pointed to Sony, which has made its Music Unlimited platform available on iOS, and Nokia, which has made its Nokia Music+ service available via the Web.

"It would also not be surprising to see Google bring its All Access Music offering to iOS as it has brought other services such as Google Drive, Gmail and Google Maps," Rubin said.

"As for Xbox Music, this is a move to stay competitive with platform neutral services such as Spotify, Rdio and Rhapsody while tapping into the large iOS device market," he added. "For now, Apple does not have an unlimited music service although it is moving into streaming music with iTunes Radio."

Future Innovations

Microsoft promised continued innovation over the months ahead, hinting at the addition of "Radio" to the free Web player. Radio lets you personalize your collection, discover new favorites, and create playlists by launching instant mixes based on your favorite artists. Radio also offers unlimited skips and a view of the full recommended music stream.

Xbox Music will grow on Windows 8 when it adds the anticipated new Web Playlist tool this fall. The tool scans all the artists and music available on a given Web page and creates a custom playlist of all that music. Web Playlist along with Windows 8.1 will be released Oct. 17.
 

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