Today Blackberry announced their anticipated BBM Music service, which it transpires is powered by white label cloud music stalwart Omnifone (who also power the likes of Sony and Vodafone).
In short the service offers:
- 50 tracks per month for a £/$ 5.99 fee
- Is available to Blackberry Messenger (BBM) users
- Users’ tracks are available for their BBM friends to listen to (so the more friends with the service the more music you have access to)
- It is launching in Beta in the UK, US and Canada today and will eventually roll out to 18 countries
Blackberry have done something with BBM Music that many other services haven’t: they have targeted a specific defined consumer segment. Which in turn is something that the majors, Universal in particular, are increasingly looking for in music services they license to.
Blackberry has weathered a lot of tough marketplace scrutiny over recent years with many questioning how RIM will deal with the iPhone threat. Those concerns are valid ones but primarily relate to the email-focused business users and misses the massive importance of the youth segment to Blackberry adoption. Blackberry’s youth appeal largely stems from BBM presenting a cost-free alternative to texting for text hungry youths. Blackberry’s ability to successfully simultaneously target these two almost diametrically opposed segments with the same device portfolio has been little short of masterful. This was well illustrated to me when a friend recently told me about when his teenage daughter saw him checking email on his Blackberry she asked him “what do you need a Blackberry for Dad? Aren’t you too old for one?”!
So by targeting their youth centric installed base of 45 million BBM users with a cheap, inherently viral and social music service plays to one of Blackberry’s key strengths. Of course direct comparisons with Rhapsody, MOG, rdio, iTunes, Spotify etc are unlikely to be unfavourable, but that’s simply not what BBM Music is about. We’ve reached the stage of maturity in digital music where we shouldn’t be talking anymore about ‘an iTunes killer’ or a ‘Spotify killer’. Instead the music industry needs targeted segmented offerings that grow the market by engaging with un-penetrated consumer segments. In that context, BBM Music should be a valuable addition to a digital music marketplace that is in real need of new differentiated services.
Finally….the timing of the announcement, off the back of BBM’s new found infamy as the communication method of choice for London’s rioters is unfortunate but does open up some interesting potential marketing slogans, such as ‘download while you loot’ and ‘so cheap it’s a steal’….
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