Samsung launches streaming Music Hub for Android, mulls expansion to iOS

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Samsung Electronics introduced an expanded version of its Music Hub service touting streaming access to 19 million songs as well as scan-and-match cloud storage features.

Initially rolling out to the Android-powered Galaxy S III and slated to expand to additional Android devices in the coming weeks, Music Hub is offered in free and premium versions. The former enables users to purchase individual songs and albums, and listen to 30-second previews of all content. All tracks purchased via Music Hub are stored in the cloud and accessible across all of the consumer's devices; songs also may be stored locally on devices for offline listening.

The premium version of Music Hub, priced at $12.53 per month, allows subscribers to upload and access their entire digital music collection to the cloud and guarantees unlimited streaming for all songs in the Samsung catalog. Users may also personalize music stations based on their favorite artists. 

Music Hub is based on technology developed by cloud services firm mSpot, which Samsung acquired earlier this month for a reported $8.8 million. The mSpot platform includes branded streaming music and movie services optimized for a range of mobile devices and operating systems including Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android.

Samsung first introduced the Music Hub scan-and-match feature earlier this month. The offering closely resembles Apple's iTunes Match, which mirrors music library files with a 256 kbps AAC DRM-free version culled from the iTunes Store, offering consumers anytime/anywhere access to their collections via the iCloud digital media storage platform. Apple offers iTunes Match for $24.99 per year.

"iTunes has been a pillar on which Apple's content and devices empire has been built. So it's little surprise that Samsung, the world's largest TV manufacturer and Apple's chief contender in the mobile market, would want to follow suit," said Informa Telecoms and Media Principal Analyst Giles Cottle. "Yet where Apple is leagues ahead of all its competitors is in the quality of experience it offers across all of its devices, and how well those devices work together. Samsung makes beautiful phones and TVs, but the experience of using both is no greater than the sum of their separate parts. The most glaring sign of this is that its Smart TVs and smartphones are still built on completely different operating systems, making true convergence almost impossible. Without this homogeneous cross-device experience, Music Hub will simply be another paid-subscription and cloud music service in a market that is already starting to feel more than a little crowded."

Samsung Senior Vice President of Media Services TJ Kang told The Inquirer that the company is mulling whether to expand Music Hub to other operating systems. "There is a possibility that Music Hub will be made available on competing platforms such as iOS," Kang said. Although the mention of "competing platforms" suggests Samsung could also bring Music Hub to Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry and Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone, Kang declined to directly address the possibility.

For more:
- read this release
- read this Inquirer article

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