Sony touts potential iTunes competitor

It was one step forward and two steps back for Sony on Wednesday as the electronics giant announced it would be taking on Apple’s iTunes with a new streaming music subscription service dubbed “Qriocity.”

However, the only (and rather significant) problem is, it won’t work on portable devices.

Aside from the rather Qonfusing and Qitschy name, cloud-based digital music service Qriocity might have been a decent contender to Apple’s rather pricey digital music service, but it seems to have failed epically on two fronts: a) It’s not that cheap and b) it’s not mobile.

Indeed, there are already a plethora of unlimited streaming services available which offer subscriptions ranging from free to very cheap: 

Pandora, LastFM, or Spotify for instance – all of which, incidentally, are mobile capable.

Sony’s Qriocity only offers two subscription plans: “basic” and “premium.”

The basic subscription costs $6 a month and basically offers nothing more than a slightly personalized, ad-free radio station with “unlimited forward skipping.”

So, kind of like Pandora or LastFM – but without the integrated social media, and rather more expensive.

The premium version costs $15 a month which is the same as Spotify, though Sony claims it has ad-free access to over six million songs. 

Which is great, except you can’t bring them anywhere seeing as it’s not mobile.

Maybe someone should tell Sony that attempting to get folks to pay $15 a month for a service they can get for free or less is probably not a winning business model.

Even Microsoft has seen a surge in popularity of its own proprietary Zune subscription service, offering users the ability not only to stream music to their Zunes or Windows Phone 7 (should they, by rare chance own either of those) but also to their Xbox and desktop (far more likely prospects). 

In addition, Zune users can share their streamed music across five different devices, which seems fair.

Now let us look at Sony’s prospects. 

Who do you know who owns a Sony music player?

And just by sheer numbers, Xbox far outstrips the PS3. And, let’s be honest, do you really want to pay $15 a month to stream music to your Sony Bravia HD TV?

Also, despite having all four major record labels on board, Sony is being incredibly miserly by refusing to give any music away for free. It won’t even do 30 second previews for heaven’s sake.

So far, Sony has only released its ill-conceived music in the UK and Ireland, but the firm says it will launch in the U.S., Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and New Zealand in 2011.

Sony does not seem to have spotted the flaw to its new service, nor the fact that it doesn’t even compete with LastFM properly, never mind iTunes. 

The company’s executive vice president Kazuo Hirai figures that “over time” the service will “stand on its own,” – but whether or not that’s a good thing remains to be seen.

And you know what? 

Sony lost $2.6 billion last year on questionable business decisions. So, we can’t help but wonder if the company is continuing this unfortunate trend. [[Sony]]

(Via Apple Insider)