Earbuds at the ready: five contenders for Apple's digital music crown

As Samsung attempts to take a bite out of iTunes, MT takes a look at other players striving to do the same

by Gabriella Griffith
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Samsung is rallying its troops for yet another attack on iTunes and its music download empire. The latest weapon in the Korean tech giant’s arsenal is Mr Beyonce, aka Jay-Z.

Having bought the rights to release the rapper’s latest album, Magna Carta Holy Grail (Messiah complex, anyone?), before anyone else, the firm is hoping to coax music fans away from their beloved iTunes into the receiving arms of Samsung’s music marketplace, Samsung Hub.

The latest push from Samsung isn’t the only attempt to take on Apple’s hallowed iTunes. Most of the tech behemoths we know and love have had a pop.

Here are our top contenders (including our buds at Samsung):

Amazon Cloud Player

Having already beaten other retailers at the CD-selling game, Amazon launched its music service to have a crack at the digital market back in 2011.

The Amazon boffins were canny enough to beat Apple and Google to cloud-based music storage and streaming (after all they did practically invent the cloud), eradicating the need to sync your phone with your computer or worry about smartphone storage. (iTunes came up with cloud-based iTunes Match shortly after).

It offers 5 GB of cloud storage for free, after which users must cough up.

Google Music

There’s no way Eric Schmidt and pals would let this gravy train pass by without having a bash. Google Play, the search giant’s online music system launched in the UK in November 2012.

The service followed Amazon’s suit, storing users' tunes in the cloud - but unlike Amazon, it offers storage for free.

‘Play’ comes pre-installed on the newest Android devices paralleling iTunes' native appearance on iPhones.

Xbox Music

Microsoft raced into the music service space with its Xbox Music launch, available on (you guessed it) Xbox consoles, as well as smartphones, tablets and PCs.

The service acts as a cross between Spotify and iTunes, allowing users to use free or paid models to stream a library of tunes, as well as purchase and download music to their devices.

BlackBerry 10 BlackBerry World

Not ready to give up the fight, battered and bruised BlackBerry creator RIM launched its new smartphone, the BlackBerry 10 at the beginning of this year. The phone included BlackBerry World – a storefront offering music, films and TV shows as well as apps.

 Initial reports haven’t been great, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that over 50% of customers returned their BlackBerry 10s after trying the new platform. Doesn’t bode well for BlackBerry World.

Samsung Hub

Samsung launched its music service back in May 2012 on the Galaxy III handset.  It offers downloads of music, video, books, games as well as a streaming service called Samsung Music.

Recent investment into the platform to get exclusives from artists like Jay-Z shows just how serious Samsung is about taking on Apple on content.

The service will link seamlessly with Samsung hardware products. Given it is already the world’s leading seller of flatscreen TVs and smartphones, Hub certainly has a chance to make a mark.

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