It often seems that many of Apple’s competitors decide to launch products based upon what Cupertino is rumored to do, hoping to get a head start on Apple. It’s funny how often this fails. Remember when all of Apple’s competitors announced their own “slates” ahead of the 2010 debut of the original iPad? Or how Amazon launched a crappy cloud locker service for MP3s ahead of iTunes Match?
With rumors swirling that Apple is planning on launching its own streaming music service, it seems curious that Microsoft is now choosing to relaunch their own answer to iTunes, the Zune Music Store, under the Xbox brand, while simultaneously introducing their own… wait for it… streaming music service. And it’s coming to iOS.
Xbox Music will now replace Microsoft’s Zune brand, which Microsoft launched several years back in a failed attempt to compete with iTunes. Starting tomorrow, Xbox 360 consoles will have access to the service; it will also ships on Windows computers and tablets once Microsoft launches Windows 8 on October 26.
In addition, there’s the stream music service:
Microsoft will offer a free ad-supported music streaming service, and a premium $9.99 subscription service for unlimited, ad-free streaming.
The service includes a download-to-own music store with over 30 million songs in its global catalog, more than iTunes’ library of over 26 million songs. It also carries over 70,000 music videos, available only on the Xbox console.
It has cloud-storage features similar to iTunes and Amazon Cloud Player and an artist-based radio function like music streaming services Pandora and Spotify.
Microsoft apparently intends on bringing the service to iOS and Android starting next year.
Skepticism aside, I have to say, this looks like a pretty good offering if you are heavily immersed in Microsoft’s operating systems and platforms. It looks like iTunes + Spotify, which is pretty much my dream version of Apple’s eventual streaming music offerings. But without a killer phone or tablet on the market, it seems unlikely to me that Xbox Music will make much of a dent.