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BlackBerry Performs a Mercy Killing

BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY  ) is doing the inevitable, informing its subscribers that it will be shutting down its BBM Music service in two months.

The late 2011 rollout of BBM Music was flawed from the start.

The price was right at $5 a month. The model itself is what was ridiculous. Subscribers would have access to just 50 songs -- swapping out as many as half of them in any given month. The social gimmick was that then they would be able to access the 50 profile songs of anyone that they befriend on the platform. That was supposed to be the viral elixir, but we had seen how well social sharing went for Microsoft's Zune.

Those of us writing about BBM Music at the time of its launch in November 2011 were unimpressed.

It's not the first time that a company took too long to realize that it failed in social music.

Microsoft overstayed its welcome with the Zune portable media player that was never able to make a dent in Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) leading iPod platform. Apple itself wasn't successful. Its own attempt at making music social -- Ping -- was mercifully scrapped from iTunes two years after its launch.

Smartphone companies need to let the social companies worry about social. Halfhearted attempts aren't going to make their platforms any stickier.

The writing was on the wall for BBM Music when it wasn't part of the BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system upgrade. However, it was doomed from the start. Who would pay $5 a month and have to jump through social hoops when Spotify has millions of songs streaming on demand for just twice as much? If money was a factor, Pandora is the popular choice of ad-based free streaming. There were 67.7 million active monthly users of Pandora's service in February, and it's one of the music apps that have been ported to BB10.

If there's any surprise here, it's that BlackBerry is eliminating its proprietary music service at a time when popular streaming apps including Spotify and Rdio haven't decided if BB10 will grow enough to justify developing a BlackBerry app. There's a void to fill, but it doesn't look good when even BlackBerry is throwing in the towel.

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Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (2)

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  • Report this Comment On April 04, 2013, at 8:51 PM, voytekp wrote:

    "a Mercy Killing" ?????

    Can you guys make any more dramatic! They are just doing a clean-up of any services that don't make them any money. This is what BBRY CEO said they would do.

    Why didn't you use the same stupid title when Yahoo and Google started shutting down services and killing various applications support!


  • Report this Comment On April 04, 2013, at 8:55 PM, Oril wrote:

    The thing one has to ask themselves is that if the 80 million or so customers who have owned or do own blackberry were not buying the BBM music product then should the company continue to lose money by providing the product. Obviously not which is why it is not part of BB10. The company is moving on with new products that people want and scrapping those that they don't.

    Which leads me to one more thing, why would someone like Munarriz who doesn't own a blackberry, professes to have no interest in the stock even be writing these countless articles using every excuse he can to slam the company at every opportunity? He is obviously lying or being compensated by blackberry short sellers or motley fool management or most likely all three.

    The bottom line is that his articles are not having the desired negative effect on investors or BB10 sales so he is a waste of money as well.

  • Report this Comment On April 04, 2013, at 11:13 PM, TMFBreakerRick wrote:

    voytekp, if it's any consolation, I don't play favorites. My heading when Apple nixed Ping last year was "Apple Buries the Dead"

    Oril, I've been following BlackBerry and the smarpthone industry for years. I don't need to own a BlackBerry, unless you're assuming someone has to have every phone platform personally to comment on the industry in general.

    Just because we don't agree on BlackBerry's future doesn't mean that I'm corrupted. I don't think that your opinion is anything else than your own. We differ. It happens.

    Your first paragraph was solid. We can debate something like that. When you dabble into the conspiracy theorist weeds about my intentions -- when it's little more than me voicing my opinions as an analyst and investor that has lived through many smartphone cycles -- you lose me.

  • Report this Comment On April 05, 2013, at 8:04 AM, Oril wrote:

    I never said you were corrupted. I said you were likely being compensated by short sellers or motley fool to write these countless negative articles about blackberry. Someone is obviously paying you or you are doing it for your own gain. Either way it is not having the desired effect as your efforts are a waste of everyone's times.

  • Report this Comment On April 05, 2013, at 12:21 PM, CZZZZZZ wrote:

    Speaking of mercy killing, how about giving this blackberry bashing a rest, you've made a complete fool of yourselves for more than a year now.

    I know you need to cover your $8 Short position on BBRY and idiotic $700 APPL pair trade but let's face it, you've blown it, cut your losses and go long BBRY.

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