Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) formally launched its cloud-based BBM Music service, enabling the manufacturer's 45 million BlackBerry Messenger instant messaging users to build evolving, community-based music libraries shared among their friends.
RIM kicked off closed BBM Music beta trials in late August. The service touts social and viral discovery tools alongside millions of songs from major labels Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI Music, as well as indie distributors like The Orchard and IODA. Users build personal music profiles featuring 50 of their favorite songs, with the flexibility to swap out as many as 25 songs each month -- as BlackBerry Messenger contacts join the user's BBM Music Community, music from each new profile becomes available to other community members, meaning a BlackBerry owner with 25 BBM Music friends could expand their library to 1,300 full-length songs.
BBM Music users may cache content for offline access, comment on songs and playlists, create multiple playlists and set all songs in the shared library to shuffle mode. BBM Music also supplies a visual timeline depicting recent updates within the community, complete with a chronological view of new user additions, song additions and subtractions, playlists and comments. RIM previously announced that cloud music service provider Omnifone handles all content management, music hosting and reporting functions as well as compensation reporting for copyright holders.
BBM Music is slated to go live later today via the BlackBerry App World storefront -- for now, the service is limited to consumers in the U.S. and Canada, although RIM plans to roll out the application to additional international regions shortly. BBM Music is priced at $4.99 per month, with a 30-day try-before-you-buy offer -- for a limited time, RIM is extending the free trial period to 60 days.
BBM Music brings RIM in line with archrivals Apple (NAS: AAPL) and Google (NAS: GOOG) , which announced their own cloud music initiatives earlier this year. Its BlackBerry platform continues to fall out of consumer favor in the U.S., making up 19.7 percent of the country's smartphone market as of August (a 5.0 percentage point drop compared to May 2011) according to research firm comScore. Google's Android ended August with 43.7 percent market share, up 5.6 percentage points since May 2011, followed by Apple's iOS at 27.3 percent, up 0.7 percentage points.
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