With speculation building up that both Google and Apple are getting ready to launch cloud-based music services, Motorola (NYSE: MOT) is making sure that it has its hat in the ring, too. The mobile company’s investment arm, Motorola Mobility Ventures, has taken a strategic stake in cloud-media service Catch Media, for an undisclosed sum. The move also follows closely behind rival vendor HTC announcing an acquisition of one digital media service and and a strategic investment in another earlier this month.
Catch Media’s main product, a digital media locker platform called Play Anywhere that works with smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices, is already used by Best Buy in Europe (distributed by the Carphone Warehouse) in its Music Anywhere product. Music Anywhere is due to be launched in the U.S. in “early 2010″ according to the release.
The announcement does not specify whether Motorola already has incorporated technology from Catch Media into its new portfolio of smartphones and its Xoom tablet, which was just launched today through Verizon; if it hasn’t already, it will likely do so in the future: the support of Motorola “will enable our platform to be more tightly integrated across their devices” says Catch Media’s CEO Yaacov Ben-Yaacov in the release.
Motorola’s strategic investment is not without precedent. Smartphone and tablet makers — locked in an arms race on device hardware and operating systems — are increasingly looking to other services around content to help differentiate their products from the rest of the crowd, and this is leading their investments in this area. HTC earlier this month spent $48.5 million on Saffron Digital, which specialises in mobile content delivery services; and it also made a $40 million investment in cloud-based gaming provider OnLive.
Talent agency WME Entertainment, a previous strategic investor in Catch Media, is also continuing with its involvement in the startup.
Motorola Mobility Ventures has a number of other digital media services in its investment portfolio, including the mobile app developer Handmark, mobile barcode company Scanbuy and social music service TuneWiki.