One of the questions we had about the integration of Nokia's devices and services businesses into Microsoft was where MixRadio would fit, as Microsoft already offers a more full-featured set of Xbox Music services. Now we know: The software giant is selling MixRadio to a third party.
The lucky buyer is LINE, makers of a popular mobile messaging app.
"We wanted MixRadio to continue to operate with a commitment to constant innovation and aspiration to deliver the best possible mobile-first experience to listeners," MixRadio head Jyrki Rosenberg says. "LINE share this vision and our passion for simple, personal and fun user experiences in every way."
I've always really liked MixRadio, and while I'm an Xbox Music user and Xbox Music Pass subscriber, I recognized MixRadio—originally called Nokia Music—as an inexpensive alternative for those who simply wanted a high-quality Internet radio-like service. Certainly, it's evolved nicely, and the Windows Phone app and service are fantastic. And it's available in 31 countries.
LINE promises to continue MixRadio's tradition of high quality.
"In terms of the MixRadio app and service itself, MixRadio fans can expect the same level of commitment to bring a personalized music experience to Lumia smartphones, thanks to MixRadio's recently launched recommendation engine," Rosenberg adds.
MixRadio will remain at its Bristol, UK headquarters and will continue its expansion into home audio and wearables. (It's already integrated with the Harman Kardon Omni wireless speakers and Adidas miCoach Smart Run watch.)
The deal is expected to be finalized in early 2015. I assume MixRadio will continue to be preloaded on new Lumia smart phones going forward.
But here's the odd bit: Microsoft recently killed free music streaming in Xbox Music. (Not that this functionality was ever offered on Windows Phone, but whatever.) So if you're looking for a free music streaming service, do check out MixRadio. It's good stuff, and you can upgrade to MixRadio+, with unlimited skips, more offline playback, higher quality audio, and more for just $3.99 per month.