LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – Rdio, the unlimited music subscription service from the founders of Kazaa and Skype built as a Twitter-like music service with strong social features, announced its first hardware partner at the Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday evening: the Sonos Music System, a multi-room digital music sound system that already supports two of Rdio’s direct competitors (Napster and Rhapsody).
The Consumer Electronics Show is only just getting underway here in Las Vegas, but already this Rdio/Sonos announcement fits into what is becoming a major trend this year: the native integration of music apps with home and car electronics, so that you can run apps on on those platforms the same way you would on a smartphone. For Rdio, this represents a big move, because if it’s going to compete on tall of the platforms where music apps can appear on these days, it will need all the hardware integration it can get.
Rdio’s point of distinction from those other music services is its focus on social features. As with Twitter, you see an “activity stream” — but this one represents the music your friends are listening to and sharing, from a catalog of over seven million songs, rather than their latest pithy 140-character observations.
As with Twitter (or Apple iTunes Ping), you can follow either friends or strangers. And as with Spotify, you can create collaborative playlists that any of your friends can help build, or search for public playlists shared by other users, which offers a welcome twist on the widespread artist station format.
“By adding Rdio to Sonos, our subcribers can now easily extend their Rdio Unlimited experience to their homes,” said Rdio CEO Drew Lerner in a statement shared with Evolver.fm. “For Sonos customers, we bring a new and unique social approach to music discovery and sharing.”
Rdio (available in Canada and the United States) is free for seven days for those who have yet to try it, after which it costs $5/month for the web-only version or $10/month for the version that lets you access it on a smartphone (Android, Blackberry, iPhone and Windows Phone 7) – or at some point in the first quarter of this year, on a Sonos Digital Music System.
The irony is palpable: after a decade of struggle by every company involved except for Apple to unite music services and music hardware, music fans may soon have too many consumer electronics-integrated music services to choose from — assuming such a thing is even possible.