Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Microsoft launches Xbox Music to take on iTunes, Spotify

Microsoft has officially taken the wraps off of its new music service called Xbox Music. The company has been branding the Xbox 360 more as an entertainment device than a gaming-specific one. This can be seen in past updates with the inclusion of apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, and ESPN. The company seems to have realised now that music is just as important as any of those things for consumers. During the launch Xbox Music general manager Jerry Johnson said, "We also realize, as an entertainment company, that music is an important ingredient on its own and as a part of different user experiences."

This would be Microsoft’s second attempt at creating a music channel, the first being the not-very-successful Zune. This time, the company is focusing on integrating the service into as many of its devices as it can. While starting with the Xbox 360, the company plans to integrate the service into other devices that would be running Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8 through its SkyDrive cloud service.

Microsoft's Xbox Music aims to compete with the likes of Spotify by giving the capabilities to stream music, and have a free as well as a paid account. The main attraction of the service would be the inclusion of a download-to-own music store. The store will include over 30 million songs in its catalogue, rivalling, and surpassing the catalogue on Apple’s iTunes. The service is also all set to have over 70,000 music videos, but these music videos will only be available for the Xbox 360.

Microsoft seems to be gunning for the entire online music market, especially iTunes, Spotify, and Pandora, with the inclusion of the store as well as the artist-based radio service. The biggest letdown is that none of these services are available in India. If Microsoft can capitalise on that, it will probably surpass all the other services. There is no news yet of the inclusion of India in the list of 22 countries where the service will be available.

The biggest competitor that Microsoft Xbox Music faces is Apple’s iTunes. The music service by the Cupertino-based company boasts of one of the biggest music libraries with over 26 million songs. The other big competition for Microsoft would be Amazon with its music store and cloud music service.

It seems Microsoft will have a strong foot in the door with Xbox Music because the company has sold more than 67 million Xbox 360s since its launch back in 2005. Xbox Music will be available for the Xbox 360 from tomorrow with a dashboard update. Microsoft aims to take the service to devices running Android and iOS by next year.

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