BBM Music: BlackBerry users to get streaming subscription service

BBM Music is set to launch by the end of this year on BlackBerry phones. Is this the jolt that RIM needs?

BBM Music, a new subscription service powered by Omnifone, will be available on BlackBerry phones later this year. Not shown here: A screen shot from BBM Music.

On Friday, RIM announced it would roll out a subscription service called BBM Music, which will be available on BlackBerry handsets later this year. The whole thing works a little bit like Spotify: users fork over a monthly fee – in this case five bucks – in exchange for continuous access to a cloud-based collection of music. According to RIM reps, Omnifone will provide back-end and hosting duties; a bunch of major labels are already on board.

Included in the BBM Music interface are the obligatory social media features – you can share tracks with friends, show off playlists, and customize your profile – as well as offline capability. So if you don't have an Internet connection, your music will still be available, provided you downloaded it to your handset first. BBM Music, Mike Lazaridis of RIM said in a statement, will allow users "to connect with friends on a whole new level."

RIM must also be hoping that BBM Music will help kick the company – and the BlackBerry line – a much needed jolt of energy. Back in July, RIM announced it would slash approximately 2,000 jobs worldwide, or about 10.5 percent of its global workforce. In a press release, RIM reps said the layoffs would allow the company to "eliminat[e] redundancies" and rejigger internal strategy.

This month, the company announced it would soon roll out five new smartphones running the next generation BlackBerry 7 OS, including three handsets from the Torch line and two from the Bold line. (Three new Curves are also en route.) But it may take something more than an upgraded operating system for RIM to catch up with US market leaders Android and iPhone.

Is BBM Music it?

Well, as the Guardian reports, Omnifone reps are certainly talking pretty big. "By the end of next year, our platform will service, with our partners, more paying subscribers than any other digital music service on the planet," Omnifone chief executive Jeff Hughes said this week.

Mulling signing up for BBM Music? Drop us a line in the comments section. And in the meantime, sign up for the new BizTech newsletter, which ships via e-mail each Wednesday.

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