Sony (NYSE: SNE) subscription service Music Unlimited launched in the United States, New Zealand and Australia on Thursday, entering a competitive sphere already cluttered by the likes of Apple’s iTunes and Microsoft’s Zune.
Music Unlimited launched in the United Kingdom and Ireland in December and added a few more European nations last month, bringing the total footprint of the service to nine countries. It’s a sum Shawn Layden, COO of Sony Network Entertainment, hopes to double by the end of 2011.
While Layden acknowledged Music Unlimited will have plenty of challengers in the subscription-music service, he noted that for all the activity there the majority of music fans out there have yet to commit to a digital option. What’s more, Music Unlimited will have an installed base of 50 million Sony devices in living rooms including Playstation game console, Bravia TV sets and Blu-Ray players. “We feel there’s underserved market in the home and we want to bring music back into the living room and make it more a communal activity,” said Layden.
While Music Unlimited lacks a mobile-device home, Sony expects to add it to Playstation Portable. There’s also been speculation Sony will eventually go outside its own branded hardware to team up with the likes of Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Android.
However, Google itself seems to be creeping closer to its own music solution. A Motorola (NYSE: MOT) Mobility executive indicated Wednesday at Mobile World Congress that a Google Music product could be embedded with the Honeycomb version of Android that will be embedded in Motorola’s Xoom tablet.
Music Unlimited will be available in the U.S. at $3.99 basic and $9.99 premium monthly tiers, beginning with over 6 million songs from major and indie labels. Music Unlimited is a subset of Sony’s Qriocity technology, which also powers Sony’s Video On Demand channel.