Blackberry to draw the blinds on music service in June

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Less than two years after getting into the streaming music business, BlackBerry is getting out of it.

The company formerly known as Research in Motion informed subscribers to its BBM Music service that it will be pulling the plug on the service on June 2.

“After a strategic business review, it was determined that BlackBerry will no longer develop or provide support for BBM Music,” the company explained in an email to PCWorld.

It noted that it would be looking to third-party developers to satisfy its users’ music desires.

“We have re-designed, re-engineered and re-invented BlackBerry to create a new unique mobile computing platform that enables third-parties to bring very rich music and multimedia apps and services to customers,” it said.

BlackBerry also announced that current users of the BB music service will be given a free 30-day subscription to Rdio's music service after the offering closes.

No iTunes competitor

By shuttering its music service, BlackBerry is saying, “We can’t be an iTunes,” Michael Morgan, a mobile devices analyst with ABI Research in New York City told PCWorld.

“The music service was supposed to be an extension of BlackBerry’s Messenger platform,” he explained. “I tried it. It was interesting for about 10 minutes, and then I moved on.”

Morgan’s sentiments were echoed in the comments of BlackBerry users commenting on the news of the service’s closing at CrackBerry.

“I will admit I did not even know about BBM Music until now and have been on BlackBerry since 2001,” one commentor wrote.

“I liked BBM Music, but since there is no BlackBerry 10 support, I’m already unsubscribed,” scribbled another.

A third added, “It’s been dying a slow death.”

Morgan maintained that the service “never got its legs.”

“But that’s all right,” he continued. “It’s not at the core of the BlackBerry Messenger value proposition. It was an add-on.”

BlackBerry knows it isn’t a Samsung or Apple so it has to wage guerilla warfare to stay relevant in the market, he explained.

It’s doing that by integrating successful programs from other platforms, like Android, into its ecosystem. “Considering BlackBerry’s position, that’s a very intelligent strategy.”

What went wrong

When BlackBerry launched its music service, it contained a number of deficiencies that some predicted would doom it to failure. Those flaws included:

  • Song swapping was limited—only 25 of 50 songs could be swapped out per month.
  • Value proposition for $5 a month subscription fee was poor.
  • Service wasn’t available on all BlackBerry products.
  • Idea of expanding a personal music library by inviting more friends to the service didn’t work for Zune and wouldn’t work for BlackBerry.
  • BlackBerry’s smartphone market share would work against the music service getting any traction in the market.
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