Sony Considers Move Away from iTunes

Sony is planning on expanding its Music Unlimited streaming service and is hinting that it may not have long-term plans for keeping its library on Apple’s iTunes Store. Music Unlimited is currently available in Europe, but will soon open doors in Australia, too, according to The Age.

Assuming Music Unlimited gains enough traction, Sony could pull its music library from the iTunes Store. “If we do [get mass take up] then does Sony Music need to provide content to iTunes?” commented Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Michael Ephraim.

Sony considers pulling out of Apple’s iTunes Store

He added “Publishers are being held to ransom by Apple and they are looking for other delivery systems, and we are waiting to see what the next three to five years will hold.”

According to Mr. Ephraim, Sony’s Music Unlimited is more open than Apple’s iTunes because it’s a streaming service and doesn’t need an iTunes Store account. The iTunes Store sells songs and albums that users download to their computer, iPod touch, iPhone or iPad, where Sony’s Music Unlimited streams songs over the Internet.

Mr. Ephraim called music streaming a new technology that’s better for end users because of the number of devices that are supported. That “new technology,” however, hasn’t proven to be a lucrative business model for the companies that have tried it over the past few years.

Sony plans to make its streaming music service available to the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) as well as Sony Ericsson phones for customers that want to listen to streaming music on the go. Despite Mr. Ephraim’s claims that Music Unlimited is more open than Apple’s iTunes ecosystem, Sony doesn’t have plans to offer the service to iPhone and iPod touch users.

Mr. Ephraim didn’t say when Sony would consider backing out of the iTunes Store, but based on the limited availability of Music Unlimited, executives won’t likely make a decision for at least a few years.