KKBOX eyeing cloud music market in Southeast Asia

Taipei, Feb. 7 (CNA) KKBOX Inc., Taiwan's biggest cloud-based music service provider, said Thursday it will formally launch an unlimited pay-per-month service in Singapore and Malaysia in March to tap into the Southeast Asian market. The company began free registration of its trial service in the two countries in mid-January, expanding its footprint from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan to other Chinese-language music markets, said KKBOX Managing Director Alex Wang. With more than 10 million songs in its library, KKBOX's streaming music service is likely to be priced at 9.9 Singapore dollars (US$7.99) in Singapore and 14.9 Malaysian Ringgits (US$4.82) in Malaysia when it goes on sale in those markets next month, Wang said. "Local partners are very important to us," he said in an interview with CNA. "We have been in talks with several telecom operators and banks there because they have a wider customer base and mature payment systems." Founded in Taiwan in 2004, KKBOX launched its service in Hong Kong in November 2009 and tallied about 200,000 registered users in that market during the first year, according to the company. Wang forecast that KKBOX will achieve a first-year growth in Singapore and Malaysia similar to its performance in Hong Kong, since the company has expanded its digital database in those two countries by partnering with local music artists and publishers. Furthermore, he said, KKBOX will begin market positioning in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines this year, in an attempt to become the leading streaming music service provider across Asia. In Japan, one of the world's major music markets, KKBOX plans to launch its own-branded music service in March to introduce more Chinese-language songs to that country, Wang said. In June 2011, KKBOX launched a music service for mobile phone users in Japan, in partnership with RecoChoku, Japan's largest digital music content provider. The pay-per-month service, called "LISMO unlimited," is offered through Japanese mobile phone operator KDDI Corp. at a cost of 1,480 Japanese yen (US$15.84). Currently, Japanese mobile phone operator KDDI Corp. holds a 67.5 percent stake in KKBOX, with Taiwan smartphone maker HTC Corp. holding 11.1 percent and KKBOX's management team retaining 21.4 percent. (By Jeffrey Wu)