Whether Sony really expects to make money from its cloud-based music service is questionable as it fails to offer anything to make it stand out from the crowd.
Sony has launched its “Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity” service in Ireland and the UK with other areas to follow including the US in 2011. It will offer customers the chance to sign up to get access to over 6 million songs from the libraries of Warner, EMI, Universal and of course Sony. For £3.99-a-month you will receive access to a personalised, ad-free radio station similar to Last.fm with “unlimited forward skipping”. While the premium £9.99-a-month sub will get you unlimited ad-free access to the whole library of songs – just like Spotify.
Similar to it’s movie streaming service launched last month, users of Music Unlimited will be able to stream songs from their PCs to all their Sony devices including Bravia-branded TVs and Blu-ray players as well as their PlayStation3. There is no download option with Music Unlimited, with all your preferences and playlists stored in the cloud. Users can also synchronize their existing music files and playlists from other media players including iTunes with Music Unlimited.
Sony’s selling point is obviously going to be its integration into your home media system and this will come pre-loaded on their devices from now on. However this is not going to be enough to lure people away from Spotify (which is free with ads) or Last.fm (which is free and has a social media aspect to it). Sony is obviously adding more value to its integrated devices but we can’t see many going for this option, especially considering it’s not free.
Finally we couldn't leave this story without mentioning the name. Music Unlimited? Not a bad name. Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity? Terrible. Putting aside the length of the name, it is Sony’s use of Qriocity (which is meant to sound like curiosity if you’re wondering) that gets us. Whatever about the person who thought up the idea, it’s the person who saw it and went “Oh that’s a great idea, everyone will get that!” who we would really like to meet.