July 1, 2013
Microsoft is making a move in the rapidly changing streaming music business. The company has launched a Web version of Xbox Music. This comes just days after Redmond announced its latest Windows version. Available at music.xbox.com, the service offers “millions of songs, zero ads.” With it, users are able to stream unlimited songs and albums, and put them into collections and playlists. Xbox Music doesn’t include a radio service. As a result, the service isn’t free. However, that should change soon. At last week's Windows 8.1.event, Microsoft demoed an Xbox Music radio service. For now, Microsoft is charging $9.99 for a monthly Music Pass, or $99.90 per year. New users can enjoy the service free for 30 days. Besides the Web, Xbox Music is available on Windows PC or tablet, Xbox 360, and Windows Phone. Currently, the service is not compatible with the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad. Again, that could change. The Next Web notes that Microsoft will soon launch Xbox Music apps for iOS and Android. Should Apple be concerned? That depends on the audience. In its present form, Xbox Music on the Web shouldn’t pose a threat to Apple’s iTunes. Yes, the service is available on a Mac through Safari, Firefox, and Chrome. This availability, however, doesn’t extend to iOS since it requires Flash 11+. Yes, Flash. However, there are a number of moving parts here that could cause Apple some concern down the road. First among these is what effect an Xbox Radio service could have on Apple's upcoming iTunes Radio product. After all, Apple's streaming music service isn't just launching on iOS and OS X. It will also be available on Windows-based devices. In other words, Windows users could decide to forgo Apple's new service, especially if Microsoft offers an all-in-one solution across multiple devices. Another concern for Apple is the likely launch of an Xbox Music app in the App Store. Sure, Apple could block some key features before allowing it. However, Microsoft could easily resolve this by making Xbox Music for the Web available on iOS devices.