Last month we reported that Microsoft was considering spinning out MixRadio, but it turns out the music service’s future is with someone else: Japan-based messaging firm Line which just announced an undisclosed deal to buy it.
Line, which has 500 million registered users of which 170 million are active each month, announced a music streaming business in Japan last week. Musically reports that the two services will be separate. Line has partnered with Avex Digital and Sony Music Entertainment for its upcoming Japanese service and now we know it is tapping an existing player to cover its overseas markets.
MixRadio itself claims “millions” of Windows Phone users from across 31 countries, although it is yet to launch for iOS or Android. Buying the service saves Line the considerable investment in time and money that comes with negotiating licensing deals in each of these markets.
The move is another example of Line’s strategy to develop its messaging application beyond chat and into a mobile entertainment platform. Line users can already play games, follow celebrities and brands and buy stickers while the company launched a payments service two days ago — it also has plans to introduce taxi-booking and food delivery services in its native Japan.
Japan, Taiwan and Thailand are Line’s largest market — accounting for over half of its active users — but it is focused on developing its popularity overseas. It claimed traction in Spain, Mexico and parts of Latin America, and tapping into MixRadio’s user base might help it increase its visibility and reach.
Likewise, the deal stands to benefit MixRadio. It doesn’t provide raw user numbers but is almost certainly trailing the likes of Spotify, Beats, Pandora and Rdio. A partner like Line could help popularize the service and give its eventual Android and iOS apps a running start.
Finally, the deal also signifies the growing influence and global ambition of Asia’s top technology firms. This isn’t Line’s first acquisition, but it is its first outside of Asia and it could be a sign of things to come as the company, China’s WeChat and Korea’s Kakao Talk up their focus on multimedia and reaching users outside of Asia.