BlackBerry's Rumored Music Service Sounds Underwhelming

Streaming and social, the new feature is more limiting than competitors

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Research In Motion is finalizing contracts with top record labels to offer a streaming music service on BlackBerry devices. CNET's Greg Sandoval and Roger Cheng broke the story on Thursday and explained that the new feature comes "at a time when Research in Motion needs to sex itself up" and will be built on top of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). The approach hints at the idea that the Canadian device maker wants to wiggle into the already very crowded, socially powered cloud music space. But based on some fresh details provided by The New York Times on Friday, BlackBerry will be starting off at a disadvantage. "Unlike Spotify, Rhapsody and other so-called cloud music services, which let their users stream millions of songs, the new BlackBerry program would allow users to share only about 50 songs with other users, through playlists and other features," The Times reports.

As we pointed out earlier this week, BlackBerry is having a bad month; blogs painted them the biggest loser in Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, the world blamed BBM for facilitating the riots in London, and gadget reviewers largely gave their latest product line good-but-not-good-enough reviews. This week's rumors about a streaming music service are indeed just rumors so far, but BlackBerry could do without speculation that their customers will be underwhelmed once again. CNET says that "RIM has signed a deal with at least one of the top-four record companies and is close to signing at least two others," though until we know more about the specifics, it's unclear how the company will differentiate services already available on BlackBerry devices like Rhapsody and Pandora.

The rumored service is also, of course, drawing comparisons to iTunes, an approach that analyst Matthew Thornton has his doubts about. "I just don't think trying to replicate Apple is really going to change [BlackBerry's] situation near term," Thornton told Reuters.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.