Xbox Music is in many ways Microsoft’s attempt to catch up with everything that has been going on in the digital music space in the last two years:
When Microsoft launched Zune, it had an opportunity to look at the landscape of subscription music players such as Rhapsody and sought to differentiate with moves such as large, panning photos of artists, smart deejaying, social integration and a few free MP3s per month. The service sputtered, but its competition hasn’t fared much better. With XBox Music, Microsoft is again turning to the freebie strategy, giving away six months of on-demand streaming, at which point you will hopefully be hooked. After that, it’s virtually indistinguishable from others on the market (or at least a combination of others on the market).
This will be a lot easier for consumers to manage than the MP3 credits were. And perhaps integration and a favored position in the living room will earn it some traction there, but with Pandora integrated into an increasing number of HDTVs and of course MusicChoice and Sirius XM on tap for most cable and satellite customers. With Microsoft’s weak market share in handsets already (and some decent competition from Nokia Music from one of its partners), it clearly will have to flesh out its strategy for other mobile platforms soon.
Thanks to Manan Kakkar for the correction.