The world’s largest software maker Microsoft Corp. (MSFT - Analyst Report) is offering free access to Pandora Media, Inc.’s (P - Snapshot Report) ad-free radio services on its Windows Phone 8 through the rest of 2013. Pandora has revealed an app for Windows devices, which can be used for this purpose.
Google’s Android and Apple’s (AAPL - Analyst Report) iOS users pay $3.99 per month or $36 per annum for Pandora One, Pandora's ad-free premium subscription service. Privately-held Spotify also charges a minimum of $4.99 per month for similar access. Thus, Microsoft’s offering of the ad-free version at no extra cost may generate some interest among consumers and drive them toward its Windows Phone 8.
Founded in Oakland, Calif, Pandora Radio offers its services in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. It has two subscription plans: a free subscription supported by advertisements and an ad-free service for certain charges.
Pandora launched a mobile version of its software for Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch through the iTunes App Store. It is also available for Windows Phone, Android phones and BlackBerry platforms among others.
The Pandora app also is using Windows Phone 8′s Live Tiles interface by allowing users to access features from the app directly on Window Phone 8′s Live Tiles. This feature will allow users to pin their favorite tracks, allow them to see what’s currently playing and access recently played stations without fully opening the app.
This app is also compatible with Windows Phone 8’s Kid’s Corner. Parents can change the settings to filter what their children may be listening to and children can continue to listen to their favorite music.
Currently, just like other PC makers, Microsoft is also battling the slump in the PC market caused by the sluggish economy. To make matters worse, tablets continue to cannibalize its core PC market. Although Microsoft has launched its own mobile devices (both tablet and smartphone), it will have to deal with significant competition in these markets. Given this backdrop, software development around its Windows Phone is reason for cheer, as it could attract more users..
As per a report by IDC, Android OS shipments touched 497.1 million units in 2012, up 104.1% year over year. In the process, it captured 68.8% market share followed by iOS, which managed to hold on to an 18.8% share. The Windows OS lagged far behind with a mere 2.5% share.
Microsoft remains one of the best positioned software vendors, given its wide range of products, emerging markets strength, continued technology deployment at data centers and growth in cloud computing. We believe that Microsoft’s current investments are supported by its strong balance sheet and expect these to drive the next growth phase, improving prospects of market share gains.
Microsoft reported revenues, excluding deferrals, of $21.46 billion in the second quarter of fiscal 2013, up 34.0% sequentially and 2.7% from last year, in line with our estimates. All except the Entertainment & Devices segment grew both sequentially and from the year-ago quarter.
Microsoft has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).