RIM Launches BBM Music, and It’s Doomed Already

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BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is forging ahead with its BBM Music offering, an attempt at creating a viral music service that will probably fall flat.

BBM Music launches today with a free 60-day trial, and costs $5 per month thereafter. Here’s how it works:

You pick 50 songs for your music library. If you know anyone who’s also a subscriber, their 50 songs become part of your library as well. You can make playlists from these songs and cache them for offline listening. Every month, you can swap out up to half of those songs for 25 others, and your friends can do the same.

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I get what RIM is trying to do. The company is trying to create a music service that spreads among many BlackBerry users. If it’s successful, it’ll provide RIM with some extra revenue while encouraging users to stick with their BlackBerry phones instead of going with the iPhone, Android or Windows Phones.

But I’m guessing it won’t be successful, for several reasons:

First, think of how many people you know who own a BlackBerry, and whose phones aren’t tied to some corporate account that most certainly isn’t participating in BBM Music. Unless you’re willing to go online and share your BBM information with meet random people who want to share their music tastes with you, your potential music pool probably isn’t that big, especially considering the $5 per month requirement.

And for that price, the default number of songs you get is laughably small. If you assume an average song length of four minutes, you’re getting a little less than three-and-a-half hours of music. You’re going to get tired of those songs, but you can only switch half of them for new music every month.

Besides, if you’re going to pay for a monthly subscription music service, you might as well pay $10 a month for Spotify, Rhapsody, MOG or Rdio, all of which give you millions of songs with no restrictions, social or otherwise. And unlike BBM music, with those other services you can listen to your music on PCs, tablets, other smartphones and, in some cases, television set-top boxes.

By comparison, BBM Music is a limited service that relies on popularity to be useful. Maybe Apple or Google could pull off a similar approach, but with BlackBerry bleeding market share in the United States, BBM Music will have a hard time taking off.

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