When Sony Entertainment Network chief Tim Schaaf told Evolver.fm in an exclusive interview last December that Sony was working on an Apple iOS app for its unlimited music subscription, Sony Music Unlimited, we took it as a sign that Sony was committed to reversing its tradition of developing music services mainly for its own hardware.
After all, Sony's in a tricky spot -- unlike, Spotify, Rhapsody, MOG, or Rdio, it's part of a massive conglomerate that includes consumer electronics, gaming machines, computers, and more. So it's no surprise that when Sony launched its music store eons ago, it only worked with Sony hardware.
These are different times. Sony now has no choice but to join Apple, because it certainly hasn't beat it, where smartphones and tablets are concerned. Even as it sells smartphones and tablets that run on Android, Sony will join the Apple iOS ecosystem on Friday with a version of Sony Music Unlimited that runs on iOS. (Sony Music Entertainment already had an Android app, of course.)
"With the proliferation of connected devices, consumers expect complete access to their digital entertainment and demand a consistent experience regardless of the device," said President of Sony Network Entertainment International Tim Schaaff in a statement.
"We want to let users pick up their favorite device and crank up the Music Unlimited service at any time," added Sony Network Entertainment International vice president and general manager of digital video and music services Michael Aragon, also in a statement. "With the addition of the new iPhone and iPod touch app, users with a Basic or Premium subscription can listen to their favorite songs across a number of the most popular connected devices -- in and out of the home."
The Sony Music Unlimited subscription includes access to over 15 million songs. The plan options are unique, in that the radio-only version is not free (a la Pandora), but on the plus side, contains no ads. That one costs $4 per month. Sony also offers the industry standard price of $10/month for the version that lets you play any song on demand.
Most unlimited music subscriptions include more or less the same music. So why would someone choose Sony instead of, say, Spotify? The main selling point remains Sony's other hardware. If you want to subscribe to music and also use a PlayStation gaming console and/or Sony Bravia television, going with Sony will let you listen to your on-demand music collection across all of your devices -- and as of Friday, that will include the iPhone too.
For more on the Sony Music Unlimited apps, see the official description.