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Updated: HP Launches Music Subscription Service With Hungama & Universal; DRM Locked?

Hewlett Packard India has tied up with Universal Music India and Hungama.com to launch subscription based music service called HP Connected Music.

Content: Through this service, HP claims to offer more than one million songs across 20,000 artists from different genres including Bollywood, Devotional, Rock, Classic, Hip Hop, Jazz, Regional, R&B, and Country among others. It also claims to offer access to content like previews, behind the scenes footage and VIP events from Indian artists like A.R Rehman, Sonu Nigam, Priyanka Chopra, Anoushka Shankar, Euphoria and International artists like Justin BieberLady GaGa, Aerosmith, Akon.

Availability: The service will be available from Feb 1, 2013 on select HP notebooks through an embedded Windows 8 launcher and users can head over the HP Connected music website to download the music. HP claims that users can download free unlimited music for one year through this service. When we checked, we noticed that the site prompts users to start the HP launcher installed on the new HP Windows 8 computers, indicating that the service is limited to HP customers who are currently on Windows 8 operating system. HP has launched 16 Windows 8 devices in India till now. Update: HP has informed that this service will be available in 11 of its Windows 8 notebooks including HP1000, HP2000, Pavilion Sleekbook 14, Pavilion Sleekbook 15, Pavilion g6, Pavilion g4, ENVY X2, ENVY 4, ENVY 6, ENVY dv6 and ENVY m6.

DRM Locked?  HP mentions in the press release that this music is offered on a rental basis, which indicates that the music offered may be DRM-locked and the company plans to charge users to access the music after the completion of one year. However, there is no information on how much the company plans to charge for this service after the one year period, at the time of writing this article. Update: HP has confirmed that the music available through this service will be DRM-locked and users will have to renew their subscription after the completion of one year, however it mentioned that the pricing for these subscriptions haven’t been finalized yet.

Will People Use It?  While this service may provide a edge to HP over other Windows 8 manufacturers, we are skeptical if people will actually use the service, considering that the music is DRM-locked and users will not technically own the music. Nokia also offers a similar ‘all you can eat’ subscription through its Nokia Music service, for buyers of new Nokia phones. While it initially offered DRM-locked music, the company started offering DRM free music to its customers in December 2011.

Potential Business Model For Hungama? Hungama monetizes majorly through mobile content such as ringtones, video downloads, wallpapers, among others, and has tie-ups with all major telcos for content on operator portals. However, Hungama has done similar bundling deals over the past few years.

It had inked a deal with Tata Photon in June 2011, to launch an online music store only for Tata Photon customers. The website offered Bollywood, International, Devotional and Regional music, in addition to music videos and mobile ringtones & wallpapers. Hungama had also inked a similar partnership with Intel in March 2011, to launch Hungama Movies in India, which was later extended to Middle East. Hence, we wonder if these bundling deals are turning out to be a potential revenue channel for Hungama.

Other Developments: Apple had extended iTunes Store to India last month, allowing users to buy and download local and International music from the store. At launch, the store offered both Indian (including Bollywood and Tamil films) and International music across all major labels including Sony Music India, Saregama, T-Series, YRF Music (Yashraj), Universal Music India, Inreco, EMI Records, among others. Last month, Hungama also had released a revamped version of its service, to match Apple’s rollout of the iTunes Store service in the country. Flipkart also has a web-based music service called Flyte.

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