updated 12:35 pm EST, Mon February 7, 2011
Last.fm switches to pay only for Android, iPhone
Last.fm on Monday said it was switching to a pay-only model for its Internet radio on Android and iPhone devices on February 15. The strategy will drop the free, ad-supported service and will instead require $3 per month in the US to get the stream on a mobile device, albeit ad-free. Media hubs such as the Logitech Squeezebox and Sonos ZonePlayer line, will also need a subscription, either immediately or by mid-summer.
The company is unusually exempting Microsoft's platforms from most of the limitations for the near term. Xbox Live Gold subscribers in the US and UK will continue to get access for free on the Xbox 360. Windows Phone 7 users get free use through the rest of 2011 in the US and UK but will need a subscription. It's not clear whether Microsoft paid for special access, but the yearly Xbox Live fee usually helps cover the cost.
Recommendations and scrobbling (play tracking) will stay free regardless of the country and platform.
Product VP Michael Hawn said the switch was coming as it was "not practical" to run a free, ad-based service. He justified the change as moving Last.fm "in line" with rivals, although few of these ever had a free component. Pandora still has its free option but has also been consciously limited to the US to cut down on royalty fees.