Research in Motion Ltd (RIM), the maker of BlackBerry smartphones, is in the process of signing deals with the major record companies to develop a limited digital music service for its subscribers, according to several people briefed on the talks.
The new service, which is expected to be introduced to the market in the coming weeks, would allow users of the phones’ instant-message service, BlackBerry Messenger, to send songs to other subscribers, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the negotiations are private and the deals have not all been signed.
Unlike Spotify, Rhapsody and other cloud music services, which let their users stream millions of songs, the new BlackBerry program would allow users to share only about 50 songs with other users, through playlists and other features.
The service is expected to cost less than US$10 a month and the charge would be added to the subscriber’s monthly phone bill. Record companies will share some of the revenue.
The service is expected to be available to BlackBerry Messenger’s 45 million users around the world, the majority of whom are in North America.
Tenille Kennedy, a spokeswoman for RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, declined to comment about the music service.
The new music service is expected to provide a boost to RIM. Having effectively created the smartphone market with the BlackBerry, the company’s North American market share has declined substantially since the arrival of Apple’s iPhone and phones running the Android operating system.
BlackBerry Messenger has become popular with young people because of its price. It usually offers unlimited text messages for a modest fee, even on prepaid phone plans, making it less costly than conventional SMS texting.
The news was first reported by CNET, a technology Web site.