Recent rumors regarding Sony’s displeasure with Apple and suggestions that the company could soon pull its content from iTunes have been dismissed by Sony’s Chief Operating Officer Shawn Layden. According to Silicon Valley Insider, Layden referred to a previous comment from Sony’s Chief Executive, who told an Australian newspaper that he hoped the company could would not need to sell through iTunes in the future:
Sony Music as I understand it has no intention of withdrawing from iTunes. They’re one of our biggest partners in the digital domain. I think those words were either taken out of context or the person who spoke them was unclear on the circumstances.
Despite Layden’s justification of these comments, and of Sony’s intentions, the launch of the company’s “Music Unlimited” streaming service this week has only fuelled speculation that Sony is looking for an alternative to iTunes. The service provides users with access to a catalog of millions of songs from major record labels when they sign up to one of two music plans.
The ‘basic’ plan starts at $3.99 USD and allows users to listen to a ad-free radio stations based on genre, era, and mood. While the $9.99 USD ‘premium’ plan enables a user to listen to any song on demand as well as 100 channels featuring the latest hits. Music Unlimited will initially launch in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand before the service rolls out worldwide, and it will be available through numerous internet-connected Sony devices including the PlayStation 3, Bravia TVs, and the Vaio line of computers.
Sony’s president of Networked Products & Services Group, Kazuo Hirai, said:
“As we expand ‘Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity’ around the globe, it signifies a paradigm shift which redefines the existing music listening experience by revolutionizing music access, discovery, integration and personalization. Through Sony’s high quality network-enabled devices, we are focused on delivering dynamic services ‘powered by Qriocity’ to offer global customers with compelling digital entertainment propositions.”
It seems unlikely that Sony will ever withdraw its products from iTunes and end its partnership with Apple, no matter how successful Music Unlimited proves to be. For that to happen, the company would have to make Music Unlimited available to Macs and iOS devices, the latter of which I’m sure Apple would make incredibly difficult. With the ever increasing popularity of Apple’s products and services, I think Sony would be shooting itself in the foot if it was to pull out now.