Monday, January 28, 2013

Samsung's Music Hub to be expanded to other manufacturers' hardware

Apple's ecosystem around its iDevices is a major advantage for the company, but key rival Samsung isn't blind to that. The Korean giant is making moves to close that gap, as on Sunday a Samsung SVP announced that the company is going to expand its Media Hub service beyond its Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S III devices, and to other companies' hardware, as well.

Samsung SVP of Media Services T.J. Kang said that the company expects the cloud-based audio service, which combines a user’s own library of tracks with Spotify-like streaming, radio and discovery features, to expand widely in 2013. That includes not just expanding geographically -- it's currently only available in six countries -- but hardware-wise, too.

It would be easily to call Media Hub an iTunes rival, but limited to Samsung devices -- and only two, for now -- as it is, it's not much of a threat to become the Android iTunes. However, Kang said that the plan is for Music Hub to come to Samsung’s own phones, tablets, smart TVs and potentially even other devices such as its Android-powered connected refrigerator, admitting at the same time that cross-device compatibility would make life easier for consumers.

Earlier statements from Young Sohn, who started at Samsung in August as president and chief strategy officer -- and as one of the only president-level Samsung executives based outside of Korea -- indicated that he used iDevices in his private life and that Apple's ecosystem was "sticky." Those statements point to Samsung knowing it needs to push its ecosystem to a wider audience if it wants to truly compete with Apple.

However, it's not as simple as just pulling the trigger. Kang said that a wider rollout of Music Hub -- and just for Samsung hardware -- depends on the company managing to sign some territory-specific music labels deals. It also, of course, depends on the release schedule for the company’s future devices

Furthermore, Kang couldn't give a timeframe for availability on other manufacturers’ hardware, instead simply saying that wider hardware availability was the company’s goal. Since Music Hub is available in Google Play, it would be simple for the company to push it to other manufacturers' devices. Of course, that could bring Samsung face-to-face with on of the big bugaboos of Android: fragmentation.

The current version of Music Hub is the result of Samsung’s acquisition of Silicon Valley-based mSpot in May of 2012. However, the company has some work to do on software: It is currently only rated at 2.9-stars in the Play Store.

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