In 2009 it was with a lot of fanfare Microsoft announced that Xbox LIVE Gold members would get access to web services Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, and Last.fm. True, those services were free on PCs but it nice having them on your TV via your console for no extra cost than the membership you were already paying to play online. Lately, I’m beginning to sense Last.fm is going to go away. Here’s why.
After the web services were added the Xbox LIVE Gold subscription offers had those four logos everywhere. On the dashboard, on the prepaid cards, on the Xbox 360 boxes. Take a look at today’s prepaid card.
Note how ESPN is there now with no mention of Last.fm?
When Last.fm played it started with an ad and would throw another out every few songs. If it wasn’t a genuine ad, it usually defaulted to a first-party Microsoft game promo. I don’t know how many times I saw that same Forza 3 ad. Then the real ads started drying up. Then the Microsoft ads started disappearing too. Nowadays all you get is a Last.fm placeholder where an ad should be.
As part of the same deal that brought Last.fm to Xbox, the premium Last.fm app for smartphones is free on Windows Phone 7 devices. Users pay a premium on iPhone and Android phones for the no ad experience of Last.fm and other internet radio services but the Windows Phone team does nothing to promote that on their platform alone that users can get this free. Like maybe it’s going away soon?
Evidence might be strong word for this entry but there’s been rumblings that Microsoft has been working on some cloud based music video service that may or may not tie-in with Zune. Ventura and Fusion are code names that have floated around the internet ether. If Microsoft was going to launch a streaming music service across all the consumer entertainment devices then Last.fm would be seen as a duplicate and unnecessary service.
Maybe the Last.fm deal never generated profits or extra exposure. Maybe the deal only lasted for a couple of years. Maybe “Ventura/Fusion” is forcing it out the door. Maybe I’m wrong and it’s not going anywhere. But it sure doesn’t feel that way.
June 1, 2011