Monday, February 27, 2012

Muve on

Apparently, Cricket's US mobile-music-bundle Muve service is thriving in the US. The Guardian reports the words of John Bolton, "senior director of product":

"[O]ne year in, we have 600,000 paying subscribers, making us the second largest digital subscription service in the US."
Well, I guess if you compare your mobile phone service with, erm, digital music subscriptions - being second to Rhapsody might sound impressive. Even if you're still about half a million behind, and Rhpasody doesn't come with unlimited talk, text and data.

But how does Muve compare with products that it actually competes with? Tolerably well; it seems to be the thing that's working well for Cricket, offering lower churn rates than their traditional no-contract phone contracts. But the US has over 325 million mobile phones, so however well Muve is doing, it's still a minnow.

Cricket are proud of Muve, though - it looks like every tenth subscriber sign-up triggers a press release. So proud, in fact, it's doing most of their heavy lifting when talking up results. Given that AT&T are looking for a new target after being shut out of a T-Mobile takeover, it's probably that Cricket parent company Leap are hoping that Muve will be successful enough to fatten up a takeover offer.

Will the labels be thrilled by Muve's success, though?

Perhaps not so much. Back to Mr Bolton:
"What's powerful about this offering is that the music feels free," says John Bolton.
Isn't the idea that music is free one that runs contrary to the message the RIAA labels - all of whom are part of Muve - have been fighting against for years?

Again, though, Bolton has hit the nail on the head: the music feels free because what's driving Muve is the unlimited offering of connectivity. The music feels free because it's not what people are buying it for. Nobody will say no to Britney Spears for nothing, but you suspect Muve sign-ups wouldn't be so far off without the music element.