There's a new MVNO coming down the pike called ROK Mobile, and instead of simply offering unlimited voice and data at a discount the company plans to provide what it claims is a unique streaming music service as part of its core offering.
ROK Mobile plans to launch on July 4 and will have support from a CDMA and GSM carrier. The company is not saying which carriers are supporting the service, but it's a fair bet that they are Sprint (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS), the two largest U.S. supporters of MVNOs and the ones most open to supporting unlimited data. An MVNO with more than one carrier partner is not unheard of: América Móvil's U.S. TracFone unit supports service from all four Tier 1 carriers, for instance.
ROK will support the iPhone at launch as well as mid-range and high-end Android smartphones. The company did not disclose how it will price its service.
In May, ROK announced it had signed agreements with major and independent music labels to offer a 20-million-song music catalogue. Just like Spotify, ROK users will be able to search for and stream songs, as well as create collections and download music when they do not have a data connection.
Further, ROK is also using personalization algorithms like those used by Beats Music and Pandora. To itself apart, COO Gabriel René told GigaOM that ROK has created "filters" that users can put on their streams to further personalize their music, perhaps by creating different moods.
Interestingly, ROK plans to offer its music service to any iPhone or Android user--but only for two weeks. The company said its music service will be available via an app on the Apple App Store and Google Play store, and users can sign up for a 14-day trial subscription. However, to keep the service, users will need to become subscribers of ROK Mobile.
ROK's launch into the space comes amid a significant amount of action in the mobile music industry. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is acquiring Beats Electronics and the streaming Beats Music service in a $3 billion deal. And AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) is reportedly considering selling the Muve Music business it acquired via its purchase of Leap Wireless and Leap's prepaid Cricket brand.
Leap launched Muve Music in 2011, but since AT&T acquired the company the service is no longer available on new Cricket phones. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing made in early March prior to the close of AT&T's acquisition of Leap, Leap said Muve Music was available to more than 2.3 million Cricket customers as of the end of 2013, "and is currently among the largest on-demand music subscription services in the U.S. as measured by the number of paid users."
René noted to GigaOM that Muve offered songs by the download only with no streaming or radio features, but despite those limitations the service as successful, proving that there is a demand for an all-inclusive mobile music service.
- see this GigaOM article
- see this PhoneScoop article
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