New York Times, AT&T is looking to sell off the Muve Music service that it acquired as part of its purchase of Cricket Communications. This sounds like bad news for existing Cricket customers who get Muve for free with all of Cricket's current Android plans.
Muve lets users download music tracks, playlists and ringtones to their phones. If Muve is sold or shut down, all the DRM protected music that Cricket customers have downloaded will likely stop working. There will be a lot of unhappy Cricket customers if they lose their downloaded music libraries.
Muve's list price is $10/month but no one actually pays that as the service is bundled with the monthly plan cost. The Beats service is also priced at around $10/month so it's possible that AT&T will include it with Cricket plans as a replacement for Muve. However I think that's unlikely. Beats is positioned as a premium product that AT&T sells to postpaid family plan users at a subsidized price of $15/month for up to five lines. Giving the service to prepaid customers for free while charging lucrative postpaid customers for it doesn't make sense.
According to the Times, Muve has over 2 million subscribers, making it one of the largest subscription based music services in the US, bigger than Spotify or Rhapsody. Although it's big I don't think Muve is particularly valuable. The brand is relatively unknown outside of Cricket markets and I doubt many current Muve customers will be willing to pay to keep the service. Likely buyers include other subscription music services or perhaps another prepaid operator like Sprint's Boost Mobile or T-Mobile's MetroPCS. I could see one of AT&T/Cricket's prepaid competitors buying Muve and bundling it with plans to try to lure Cricket customers unhappy with losing access to their Muve.
A further wrinkle is that Apple is reportedly in negotiations to buy Beats for $3.2 billion. I don't think that deal, if it happens, will stop AT&T from ditching Muve. Most analysts believe Apple wants Beats to expand its music distribution business to other platforms. That would likely mean keeping the Beats brand and Beats Android and Windows Phone apps and no changes to Beat's relationship with AT&T.
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