BlackBerry Music Crumbles to the Competition

| Analysis

BlackBerry, formerly Research in Motion, is shutting down its online music subscription service, which is bad news for its subscribers, but is also big news in that -- wait, BlackBerry still had a music service?

The BlackBerry Music service offered about a million songs that subscribers could group together into their own playlists and then share with friends. Of course, those friends needed to be BlackBerry users, too.

BlackBerry bows out of the online music marketBlackBerry bows out of the online music market

Killing off the service is actually probably a better deal for BlackBerry's customers because their US$4.99 a month fee will now get them a free month of RDIO's online music streaming service, which includes over 18 million tracks for the same price, and also works outside of the BlackBerry ecosystem.

Offering its own online music service made sense because BlackBerry users are tucked away in a relatively walled garden and it was another way to keep customers from looking elsewhere for features. The problem from BlackBerry was that it never offered enough content to truly compete with the likes of Pandora, Spotify, and RDIO. If rumors are correct, Apple will be joining that market soon, as well.

It's easy to draw comparisons between BlackBerry and Apple in that both offer customers a walled garden experience: Most everything BlackBerry customers do is tied to the company, down to email and Web browsing. Apple's iOS ties customers to the App Store and iTunes Store, but there's also a big difference. Where BlackBerry offered its services only to people that used its devices, Apple opens its gates and lets in users that aren't tied to the iPhone or iPad.

The music, movies and TV shows on the iTunes Store are available not only to iOS device users, but also Mac and Windows users through the iTunes app. That gives Apple a substantially larger potential user base for its rumored streaming music service, and it also opens the door for Apple to sell the music users are currently listening to through the iTunes Store will little more than a tap or mouse click -- which also happens to be another feature of Apple's rumored streaming music service.

For Apple, the music industry still seems to hold opportunities, where more doors are closing on BlackBerry. The company continues to lose customers to Apple's iPhone and Android-based smartphones, and now it's cutting back on what it has to draw customers in and keep them from leaving.

Palm was once the big name in the mobile device market that eventually faded away after being absorbed by HP. BlackBerry's competition may well send it down the same path, too, and its now dead music service is just another step on that journey.

And still... BlackBerry had a music service?

[Thanks to Yahoo Finance for the heads up]

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