updated 07:30 pm EST, Wed January 11, 2012
Subscription brings Sony, CDBaby music, more
Sony has announced today that it will bring its Music Unlimited subscription service to iOS devices, seven months after the Android app version and a year since its US debut on PlayStations, Bravia TVs, PCs and other connected devices. Sony Entertainment Network head Tim Schaaff told reporters a free universal iOS app would be available this quarter, and that the iOS app will offer up to 5GB of offline caching for premium subscribers to compete with other services like Spotify, reports MobileBeat.
The ad-free service, which presently costs $4 for basic and $10 for premium access per month, allows subscribers to listen to music from a collection of 15 million songs, primarily Sony and associated label artists along with the recent addition of CDBaby's roster of indie artists. The service currently has around one million subscribers.
Some in the industry have seen the move as a surrender to Apple's dominance, since unlike the Android version Sony will have to pay Apple a 30 percent commission on iOS subscriptions. Speculation had Sony hoping that its own service and a shift to Android would allow it to break its dependence on iTunes, especially after the head of the Australian division of Sony was quoted as saying the company would like to leave iTunes last year.
The company quickly walked back the remarks and said it had "no intention" of leaving iTunes, but the sentiment could explain why the company waited so long to launch an iOS version of the service. At the conference, Schaaf and other representatives said that Music Unlimited would target users who have not yet joined a subscription music service rather than those who have already adopted one, avoiding any direct confrontation with competitors, most of whom have signed deals with Sony's music division. It also plans an optimized iPad version of the app later in the year.
Schaaf also answered a question about the future of the Walkman, which is in doubt even as the company has announced an Android-powered version of the iconic device. He said the company plans to continue making the media-only player until "people stop buying it" and said there is still a substantive market for dedicated players. [via MobileBeat]