Samsung Music Hub: Samsung's streaming iTunes service debuts on Galaxy S3, has eyes on your TV and fridge
Samsung's new music service, Music Hub, plans to take on virtually every music service currently available from Spotify to iTunes, offering users the chance to listen to music from the latest smartphones or the company's range of fridges.
In Samsung's boldest move yet to crack the popular music streaming business, the new service will offer everything from an online cloud locker storage to compete with iTunes Match, a streaming radio service to take on services such as Pandora and Last.fm, a personal recommendation engine like Apple's Genius that doesn't just recommend against your songs, to, of course, just letting you play one of the 19 million tracks it has in its catalogue to compete with Spotify.
"We aren't about niches," TJ Kang, SVP Media Services for Samsung, told Pocket-lint in a one-to-one briefing in London ahead of the announcement. "We want to have the largest catalogue. We want to be bigger than Apple."
The service, powered by the Korean's company latest acquisition mSpot, will initially be available to Samsung Galaxy S III owners who will be able to use the service if they are happy to pay the £9.99 monthly fee, and soon roll out to other Samsung devices.
"All our new devices moving forward will have Music Hub as standard, and we will be bringing the app to our current line of devices like the Samsung Galaxy S II and the Samsung Galaxy Note very soon," says Kang.
Samsung also plans to release a version for other mobile operating systems, although Kang did tell us that Samsung devices would be getting most benefit, because it can marry the strengths of the app with the strengths of the hardware.
But it's not just about being available on your phone. The service will come with a browser allowing access from either a PC or a Mac without the need to install any software, while Kang also promises an app for the company's Smart TV range. If that sounds limiting, Kang says Samsung is working to get it to as many places as possible - including Samsung's audio docks and its fridge range, allowing you to manage your music listening while you get a cold glass of milk. When he says it is a Music Hub, he really means it.
"It is important to be more open," says Darren Tsui, mSpot's CEO, also present in our meeting.
Launching initially in the UK, France and Germany, 7digital powers the catalogue giving users the chance to listen to more than 19 million tracks - but it isn't about having the largest catalogue.
"If we don't have the track you can simply upload it to the locker service and then stream it to your phone wherever you are," explains Tsui.
It's a simply solution to one of the biggest problems facing many of the music streaming services: having a catalogue to match Apple's iTunes. Tsui shows us with a Beatles track he has bought in iTunes, uploaded to his digital locker and is now streaming on Music Hub.
"The software auto-syncs with your iTunes catalogue and automatically adds the music to your digital locker," adds Tsui. That means playlists, tracks, albums anything.
"We realise that people still like to buy music; this way they can use iTunes and Music Hub together."
The app itself, as you can imagine, is fairly comprehensive, trying to make light work of the plethora of services it offers.
A grid-style system gives you quick access to the different areas of the app, while song titles and artist names dominate the proceedings there on in. Album art is present, but aside from what is playing now, it very much takes a back seat. For the karaoke fans the app also offers song lyrics.
It's clear Samsung hopes the Music Hub will become the company's new iTunes, a chance to take on Apple's music very short heritage, and until now something it has lacked. The quicker it can move from the being available to just S3 owners to more devices, the quicker that goal will become a reality.