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Who needs Spotify? Samsung launches Music Hub

Not down with OTT

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Samsung is giving its music service a major overhaul. While the new global No 1 phone manufacturer also has the hottest handset brand after Apple – in the shape of the Galaxy - its own music offerings have been a bit of an afterthought.

To remedy this, the Korean giant has decided to shun over-the-top brands such as Spotify and build an own-brand service. Samsung's new Music Hub instantly looks much more impressive than previous efforts, and attempts to integrate streaming, downloads and a locker. It launches in Europe this week, initially only one one device: the new Galaxy III. But other devices will be supported shortly, Samsung promises.

The cloudy bit of the Music Hub uses a scan-and-match technology much like Apple's Cloud music service. This means only songs that it can't recognise need to be uploaded to your locker. In addition to a streaming catalogue of 19 million tunes, there's a radio offering too. The price of access – at £10/$6 – is considerably higher than Apple's cloud subscription, although fairly in line with the services of Spotify and others.

Samsung acquired locker-streaming service mSpot in March. Other infrastructure for the new Hub has been provided by the London's 7Digital, which said it worked with Samsung for three years to develop Music Hub, and is the first streaming offering from the company. 7Digital currently provides white label download stores for HP, RIM and major music labels.

Own-brand offerings just don't have the pulling power of over-the-top service providers such as Spotify and Deezer. But both mobile operators and handset manufacturers like Samsung are reluctant to cede any more ground to the OTT brands, fearing it would leave them undifferentiated, commoditised bit pipes or black box shifters. Yet research by UK Music last week showed that people value their music collections more highly than any other media, after personal documents and family photos. The question is: why would anyone want to trust something so valuable to a network operator or handset manufacturer? ®

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