Microsoft announced that it will be starting a free music streaming service later this month; this will make life for Spotify, Last.fm and many others suddenly more difficult.
The major music labels are already working with Microsoft on the Zune and Microsoft already has a streaming service called Zune Pass in the US.
It offers unlimited streaming of millions of songs from Zune Marketplace and for $14.99 (around £9.99 per month), punters can download 10 DRM-free MP3 tracks every month and keep them.
£9.99 a month is what Spotify will charge to get unlimited, ad-free streaming music sans the 10 free songs per month. Introducing a free version of this in Europe will almost certainly decimate Last.fm and Spotify while, at the same time, hurt Apple and iTunes massively.
Microsoft could also do a Nokia and give free Zune MP3 Player (not the HD version) for those who purchase a one-year subscription for around £75. Nokia is already giving out the 5310 Xpressmusic for roughly the same initial outlay and the mobile phone features the Comes With Music package.
The Zune Pass could eventually be integrated with Windows Mobile and add video content to the mix like Apple's iTunes. Now that could seriously miff Apple and other players like Amazon.
But Microsoft could turn this very promising operation into a massive, massive farce. Back in January 2009, the company made a fool of itself when it launched MSN Mobile Music only to make the service so flawed that it didn't stand any chance of success. Now where would MSNMM fit in that new plan?
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