wall street journal reports: Research In Motion Ltd. is developing a service that would let subscribers access music on its smartphones, according to people familiar with the matter.
The music service is designed to work with RIM's BlackBerry Messenger, the company's proprietary instant-message system, according to people who have discussed it with RIM executives.
These people said that BBM Music, as the service is to be known, could launch as soon as next week. Subscribers would get access to around 50 songs at a time, which they could listen to on their phones and share with other subscribers via BlackBerry Messenger. RIM says BlackBerry Messenger has 45 million users.
A RIM spokeswoman declined to comment on the music service.
The price of the new service couldn't be determined. But people in the music industry said they have been told it will cost significantly less than Spotify AB or Rhapsody, which both charge $10 a month for unlimited access to music on mobile phones.
According to people who have discussed the service with RIM executives, the new service isn't intended to compete directly with AppleInc.'s iTunes or music service Spotify, which launched recently in the U.S. Instead, the BlackBerry service is supposed to help younger users "customize" their phones and share their songs with friends.
Even if RIM's new music offering doesn't compete directly with Spotify or iTunes, it could help the company's BlackBerry smartphones compete against Apple's iPhone and phones using Google Inc.'s Android operating system.
RIM's plans to develop a music service were reported earlier by technology-news website CNet.
Despite attempts to modernize BlackBerrys with features like touch screens, the devices remain most popular for text-based uses like email and BlackBerry Messenger, whereas iPhones and Android phones offer a range of multimedia options.
Spotify, for instance, offers applications that let users of BlackBerry's competitors listen to music on the go. But there is no BlackBerry application for Spotify.
The four major record labels have either completed licensing deals with RIM or are close to doing so, according to people familiar with the matter. These people said that RIM had at one point planned to announce the service late this week, but may push it until next week.
The four major label-groups are Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group, Sony Corp.'s Sony Music Entertainment, Access Industries Inc.'s Warner Music Group, and EMI Group Ltd.
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