Sony brings music to living room with cloud service

NEW YORK Thu Feb 17, 2011 2:17pm EST

A Sony logo is pictured at an electronic shop in Tokyo February 3, 2011. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

A Sony logo is pictured at an electronic shop in Tokyo February 3, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sony Corp is betting on being able to bring music to consumers' living rooms by offering millions of songs through a digital jukebox connected to popular devices like TV sets and games consoles.

The new service called Music Unlimited Powered By Qriocity was launched in the United States on Thursday, offering 6 million songs on demand through the cloud-based network that 60 million Sony PlayStation gamers use to play video games online.

Qriocity competes with Apple Inc's iTunes Music Store, but unlike iTunes Qriocity will offer a monthly subscription music streaming service rather than songs for downloading.

Qriocity features music from all the major labels including Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music, Warner Music Group and EMI Group. It debuted in the UK in December, and is also available in Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Canada.

The digital music service is the latest to offer unlimited song streaming for a monthly subscription fee rather than having users download song files to their PCs or phones through stores like iTunes and Amazon.com's MP3 store.

For $3.99 a month, Qriocity subscribers get a radio-like service which lets them select the music genre or artist -- similar to a premium offering by Pandora Inc, the Internet radio service company which filed for a $100 million public offering last week.

For $9.99 a month, users can choose any song they want to listen to. The service joins an increasingly crowded market with offerings from digital music start-ups like Rhapsody, Rdio and MOG.

But while other music services have been quick to add mobile features, Qriocity's focus is living rooms as Sony attempts to build on its core strength in consumer electronic devices like Bravia TV sets, Blu-ray Disc players and PlayStation 3 game consoles.

One of Sony's most successful devices was the portable Walkman cassette player which sold hundreds of millions around the world. But the company has completely ceded control of that sector to Apple's hugely popular iPod in the last decade.

Sony Network Entertainment President Tim Schaaf said the company's next priority will be a mobile offering of Qriocity including phones using Google Inc's Android-operating system and other portable devices.

Sony is looking beyond music and also already offers thousands of movies and TV shows on demand through the network.

(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Richard Chang)

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