updated 07:50 am EDT, Thu August 25, 2011
RIM posts BBM Music in beta
RIM quickly confirmed rumors Thursday and launched BBM Music. True to expectations, the cloud music service is unusual in deliberately limiting each member to 50 songs of their own. To expand the library, listeners have to be BlackBerry Messenger friends with others also subscribed to the service, gaining access to their catalog. The goal is not just to tie users to BBM but to help them discover songs they wouldn't have found on their own.
A timeline in the app gives users a Facebook-style history to see when a friend adds a new song or playlist, or starts sharing with someone new. Songs can be cached for offline listening, and those worried they'll lose songs if they stop access get the option of buying from Amazon MP3 if they live in the US or, potentially, other services.
The service is currently in a closed beta for Canada, the UK, and the US. When it goes live later this year, it will be relatively inexpensive for mobile cloud music at $5 per month.
RIM's service is its first genuinely self-run media service. While it preloads stores on its phones and the PlayBook, it has usually been running a tailored version of 7digital's store rather than its own. Cloud music like Slacker or already exists on the BlackBerry but usually costs more for the same on-demand access, albeit with no download cap. The service is likely an attempt to improve the perceived value of BBM and keep BlackBerry users onboard, particularly as rival chat services like Apple's iMessage come into play.