Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Surprise! Muve, the Music Subscription Service You Never Think About, Is Doing Okay.

If you’re a member of the musical digerati, Muve’s subscription service sounds a lot like other subscription services, but less attractive: For a monthly fee, you get all-you-can-eat music, but only if you’re using a nonsmartphone from third-tier wireless carrier Cricket.

To spell that out: Muve won’t work with your iPhone or iPod. And there’s no Web version, either.

No thanks, right? Not exactly: Cricket parent company Leap Wireless says that so far this year it has signed up 200,000 subscribers for its $55 a month plan, which includes unlimited voice, data, etc.

Those numbers make Muve either the second- or third-biggest music subscription service in the country: Rhapsody, which has been at this for years, says it has about 800,000 subscribers. And a month ago, Spotify had racked up 175,000 subs after just a few weeks in the U.S.

So Muve is doing something right, for someone. How are they doing it? Hard to tell from a distance, but the big take-aways seem to be:

Not everyone needs the full experience: Again, it’s worth noting that, until today, Cricket — which often targets less affluent customers — hasn’t offered the service for smartphones at all (it’s also now available for Android handsets for $65 a month). That means just about everyone who reads this story would turn their nose up at the offering from the get-go. But folks who read sites like this one tend to forget that there are lots and lots of people who don’t have cutting-edge tech, and lots of them don’t have smartphones. So for them, a feature phone with all-you-can-eat music is a big step up from their previous options, which were zilch.

Bundles really can work, and confusion isn’t a terrible thing: I spent the morning trying to compare and contrast Cricket’s $55-a-month Muve offer with its regular $55 a month offer. The big difference is that one works on smartphones and the other doesn’t, but you have to work at it to figure that out. I bet that many of Cricket’s customers don’t actually know what they’re getting. But if they’re happy, they’re happy.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik