Earlier this month, device manufacturer Samsung acquired music and movie service company mSpot and now the first fruits of their union have gone public. Music Hub is described as a “completely integrated, all-in-one mobile music service” and is available from today on the Samsung Galaxy S III handset in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the UK. The service will add other devices and other markets soon.
Similar to Apple’s iTunes Match service, the cloud locker uses scan & match technology, drawing on track metadata and only uploading tracks it What is most immediately interesting about Music Hub is that it straddles both free and premium. Users buying downloads from the Music Hub Store (powered by 7digital) will have them stored in the cloud and they will be automatically appear on devices registered to that account. Music Hub Premium, meanwhile, costs €9.99/£9.99 a month and allows users to upload their entire existing digital music collection to the cloud and have unlimited streaming access to it as well as all the music (19m tracks) in the Music Hub catalogue.
cannot match to avoid track duplication and sluggish upload times – and on top of this offers 100GB of storage for unmatched songs. It also has radio and discovery features (as all digital services these days seemingly must) as well as a dedicated mobile app and web player to make it as platform agnostic as possible.
It boasts an impressive list of features and seems to tick most of the boxes for any new digital service looking to impact in the market in 2012. This may also be its biggest obstacle – that the digital market is incredibly crowded, most consumers in Europe are still buying albums on CD (although this may work as a transitioning technology for them) and within that consumer niche embracing digital (downloads or streams), only a fraction of them so far have been sold on the need for cloud storage today. There are adoption and education hurdles for all such services to overcome here in order for the cloud to go mass market enough for a service like iTunes Match or Music Hub to make full economic sense. Plus the charred remains of two recently failed service-plus-handset solutions (Nokia’s Ovi Music Unlimited and the doomed boinc) expose just how big the risks are here. With other services (notably Spotify and Deezer) working with ISPs and mobile carriers to be handset agnostic, cloud services have a hard sell to connect with mass consumers. It will happen, but it could be a long wait.