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HTC reportedly working on streaming music service

Can music turn HTC's prospects around? Apparently the company thinks so, having first acquired a majority stake in Beats Audio and now working on a possible streaming service.

HTC chief Peter Chou and Beats exec Jimmy Iovine at an event last year. Sarah Tew/CNET

HTC is hoping a different tune may reverse its recent flagging fortunes.

The smartphone vendor is working on its own streaming music service, according to a report from GigaOm. The service would purportedly become the default music client on HTC phones and tablets, and pricing and plans are getting worked out.

An HTC representative wasn't immediately available to comment to CNET.

This wouldn't be HTC's first foray into the music scene. Last summer, the company acquired a majority stake in Beats Audio, the headphone business started by rapper Dr. Dre and music industry executive Jimmy Iovine. While the deal got HTC access to Beats headphones for its phones, GigaOm said the company is now working with Iovine on the streaming music service as well.

With many smartphones running the same Google operating system and offering similar specifications, it's more important than ever for vendors to ensure their products stand out. HTC had hoped the integration of Beats headphones and audio technology into its phones would turn a few heads, but one of its early offerings, the Rezound for Verizon Wireless, failed to make much of an impact. Music, however, is a key component to the smartphone experience, and HTC could see some success if it can create a service that is different enough.

Of course, HTC would run into a lot of competition. Streaming music services, including Pandora, Slacker, and Spotify are already readily available. In many cases, those services are free to use.

Iovine, who has spent years working in the music industry, is seen as someone who could get deals signed with the record labels, GigaOm reported. The service could potentially provide revenue directly to the record labels, as opposed to a third party like Spotify.

HTC could announce the service at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later this month, GigaOm said.

HTC has a press conference planned at the event, and is expected to release a number of a new products. The company has said it is refocusing itself on fewer flagship products in an effort to fend off increasing competition from Apple and Samsung Electronics. While HTC has a lot of fans at the carriers, its products didn't fare so well last year, and it missed out on crucial flagship positions at the carriers during the holiday season.

HTC and Beats aren't just looking at streaming music and headphones. The companies reportedly want to sell wireless boomboxes that play music from the mobile devices through a Bluetooth connection. GigaOm said Iovine has been public about his desire to move into other areas of the audio business.