ROK Mobile launches music app and limited cell-phone service

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One month ago we reported that ROK Mobile was gearing up for a July 4 launch of its music app (ROK Music) and unlimited cell-service. Both have happened, though the wireless service portion is a tightly limited roll-out.

ROK’s innovation is cell-phone service that is tightly integrated with mobile music streaming, using a house-built music service. The payment plan includes unlimited data, which is essential for carefree mobile music (and freedom from surprise bills). The service cost is now revealed: $50 per month, with no contract.

ROK is a wireless broadband re-seller that undercuts the providers it is buying from. t-Mobile, for example, has a $50/month plan, but it furnishes only 500 megabytes of high-speed Internet use. ROK’s selling point is targeted to music lovers for whom streaming is a primary use of the smartphone.

T-Mobile is a pertinent competitive example, because it recently launched its own music-streaming component, which removes data caps from all its plans for selected music services. (See our factual coverage here, and a guest column from Rusty Hodge here.) For a T-Mobile customer who listens mainly to one of the selected services, and doesn’t use very much non-musical Internet bandwidth, there isn’t much difference between T-Mobile and ROK, and perhaps little reason to switch.

But the wildcard is ROK’s music service. A great app experience can be a key differentiator that sets ROK apart from other providers which merely enable existing Adoird and iOS music apps.

Can ROK’s music service, which encompasses 20-million tracks, lure people away from their favorite listening platforms, and their phone providers? Watch for the RAIN review of ROK Music tomorrow.

Brad Hill