The concept of BlackBerry (NASDAQ:RIMM) Music is pretty cool, but as with many things over the past couple of years BlackBerry is a day late and a dollar short. BlackBerry Music officially launches today and while some BlackBerry enthusiasts may utilize and love the service, it is not likely to be a threat to Sirius XM (NASDAQ:SIRI), Slacker, Pandora (NYSE:P) or Spotify.
The main reason is that BlackBerry is well behind these other services in the timeline of the launch. Essentially pretty much everyone already has another service they use and love. Why pay $5 per month to BlackBerry for 50 songs when you are already paying for or using these other services?
BlackBerry is trying to be different and utilize a social networking approach to bring in consumers. The theory is that each subscriber can download 50 songs for $5.00 per month and listen to those songs as many times as they like. They can then "friend" other people with the service and listen to their songs as often as they like as well. Potentially, if you have 100 people that you "friend" you can have 5,000 songs that you can listen to as often as you like.
- Try finding even 20 of your friends who have a BlackBerry these days. The company is losing share in droves to other smartphone systems such as iPhone and Android.
- Chances are that your friends are your friends because you have similar interests that more likely than not include musical taste. If you download the top 50 songs in the "pop" category and your circle of friends does the same, then you will simply all have the same music and you are limited to 50 songs.
- Most people do not have the time to coordinate efforts to each download differing songs so that they can maximize the usage. It makes the ease of use to hear what you want to hear that much more difficult.
- More likely than not a group of "ultra-fans" will take advantage of the system and coordinate differing playlists and publish lists of people to friend in order to score thousands of songs with each participant paying $5 per month. As usual, a few computer whizzes will likely mess up the business model by circumventing the intent. The record companies would not like this at all and the royalty costs would become a huge burden.
- You can only change 25 songs per month, limiting your ability to shift to a new library.
On the other hand Sirius XM is on the cusp of releasing Satellite Radio 2.0 that will add substantial capabilities to a superior content line-up that includes not only music but news, sports, and talk as well. The company is well established with a dedicated following of fans and subscribers unlikely to be wooed away by the limitations presented with a 50 song selection offered by BlackBerry.
Sirius XM has little worry from BlackBerry at this point
Disclosure: I am long SIRI.