iTunes had long been the only kid in town as Apple-imposed rules of the game prohibited third-party storefronts of any kind on iOS devices. Bowing to government regulators, Apple last year relaxed its strict policy pertaining to third-party stores and enabled subscriptions. This paved the way for music apps from Spotify and Shazam that have recently become available on the iOS platform. Now, another major subscription-based music service is about to hit the App Store.

According to reports, consumer electronics giant Sony is bringing its Music Unlimited service to owners of Apple’s mobile devices. For either $4 or $10 a month, Music Unlimited subscribers will be able to stream music onto their iPads, iPhones and iPod touches sometime this quarter. The first tier gets you the ability to stream music from your own personal library and the other enables unlimited streaming from Sony’s catalog of 15 million songs. Similar to Spotify, you will be able to cache songs and playlists when offline.

Sony’s logic behind this move reflects Apple’s approach…

By making available its iTunes competitor on a rival platform, Sony is hoping that some of Apple’s customers may become willing to consider Sony’s many gadgets in the future. Speaking to reporters at CES 2012 yesterday, President of Sony Network Entertainment Tim Schaaff explained:

You can be a Sony customer, but that doesn’t mean every product you own comes from Sony. We have an opportunity to reach these customers, and show them the benefit of being a Sony customer.

It remains to be seen whether exclusive offerings on Music Unlimited will also be available to iOS users or if they remain limited to Sony’s own devices. The Music Unlimited service, which launched in December 2010, is available on the Playstation 3, PlayStation Portable and Vita consoles, Sony tablets and its Bravia TVs, Windows PCs, Android devices and Walkman-branded Sony Ericsson Xperia handsets.

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