Rara.com, one of the newer of the music streaming services on the market launching in December 2011, is today amping up its service to better compete against the likes of Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, Deezer and many others. It is launching new iOS and Windows 8 apps; it is adding 7 more countries to those covered by the service, taking the total to 27; and it has inked a global deal with heavyweight device company Lenovo to preload the app on its Windows 8 tablets, convertible PCs and Android devices.
Rara.com was spun out as a standalone service from Omnifone, which was founded in 2003 and was one of the earliest movers in the world of cloud-based streaming music services. Omnifone scored early wins with carrier deals to offer the service preloaded on mobile devices, but it was perhaps too early to seize the moment, with more people focused on downloading music at the time, if they were doing anything with digital music at all. Rara.com, launched only in December 2011, was effectively Omnifone’s take-two on the subject.
The company has not released any figures on how many users it has for its service. As a point of comparison, Spotify, as of July, had some 15 million active users, 4 million of which are paying for the service.
The new mobile apps will also be joined with the release of an update to the company’s existing Android app, as well as an existing web-based service. These will include a new widget so that users can control playback on Rara.com on their homescreens.
On iOS, Rara.com is releasing separate, dedicated apps for the iPhone/iPod Touch and the iPad; both are AirPlay compatible and as with the rest of the Rara.com service, tracks can be stored on the device in the event that you are offline.
The Windows 8 app makes Rara.com the latest to offer an app on Windows 8 in the lead-up to its official launch later this week, and as with other apps, it will integrate with Windows 8′s own search service so that you can search for Rara tracks even when not in the app itself. For now, it doesn’t look like Rara.com is releasing a Windows Phone app to complement the Windows 8 app for tablets and PCs.
Meanwhile, the new countries on Rara.com’s map – Brazil, Mexico, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Africa and Portugal — point to how it is taking a strategy to aim at both a mix of developed and emerging markets to pick up new users. That puts it in contrast with companies like Spotify, which have gone after more mature markets, banking on the idea that mobile and fixed broadband would be better off there, and people would have more disposable income to buy services like music streaming.
Nick Massey, CEO of Rara.com calls the news today a “significant step-forward in the execution of its roll-out strategy,” which also points to the company perhaps also considering further developments ahead. The total list of countries now covered by the service is UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Portugal, US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and South Africa.
As with Rara.com’s existing service, the new apps are based around the idea of charging people for content, rather than offering an unpaid service that could potentially convert users into paying subscribers. In Rara.com’s case the price on mobile is 1.99 pounds, euros or dollars per month for three months to access 18 million tracks, advertising-free. That price then goes up to £/€/$9.99 per month. The company’s web-only access service is less expensive. The introductory three months are £/€/$0.99 per month with subsequent months priced at 4.99.
On top of all of this, Rara.com is also continuing to expand its content deals with labels. The latest is an agreement with Merlin, which represents lots of independent labels.
The Lenovo deal follows another a partnership that Rara.com’s parent Omnifone has with Sony, where it powers the company’s Music Unlimited streaming service. Rara.com meanwhile is embedded in HP devices, too. In the case of Lenovo, it will be preloaded on to the OEM’s Windows 8 PCs, convertible PCs and tablets (these include the IdeaCentre desktops and ThinkPad Classic and Edge laptops, IdeaTab Lynx tablets and IdeaPad laptops, and the new IdeaPad Yoga ‘convertible’ PC); as well as on its Android tablets (e.g., IdeaTab S2110, A2105, A2107 and A2109 tablets).
This looks to be Lenovo’s first deal of this kind with a music streaming company, and it’s a big coup for Rara.com: Lenovo is widely thought to be just about to overtake (or may have already overtaken, depending on who is counting) HP as the world’s biggest computer maker.
“Our collaboration with rara.com will give our customers a great new way to explore and enjoy music on our innovative devices,” Deepa Kumar, Director, World Wide Marketing, Software Ecosystem & Cloud Solutions, at Lenovo, said in a statement.