Internet music streaming site, Spotify, has announced its obvious next step: to go mobile. It has demonstrated an application for smartphone platform Android which will allow users (yes, all 12 of them) to stream songs from the music site to their mobiles, reports Ian Scales.
Spotify is the always-on streaming alternative to a music service like iTunes and it is apparently taking hold in a big way. Instead of paying for and downloading songs the iTunes way, users download a client which enables them to search through a huge database of songs online and immediately play them from the screen.
The format on-screen is very iTunes-like (so users are in familiar territory) and the service functions somewhat like a personalised radio station with users compiling play lists and favourites.
The funding model is either via advertising with an ad interrupting play every now and then (at the moment this is not very intrusive taking up proportionately less airtime than a commercial radio station for instance) or users can opt to pay to enjoy ad-free listening - this is currently pegged at 99p per day (in the UK) or £10 per month.
The mobile version of Spotify pays heed to the fact that broadband availability might itself be a bit spotify and has a caching facility so that songs can be played when out of range (or for some users when WiFi is not available leaving expensive and perhaps capped HSPA access the only alternative).
The fact that Spotify has chosen to debut its mobile service on Android rather than on the more highly-populated iPhone platform has raised a few eyebrows.
Indeed, it's easy to draw conspiracy dots.
As Apple has more or less staked a claim on the digital music market with its iPod products and iTunes store, the accusation might go, it would be less than delighted to host Spotify in the AppStore. Apart from anything else (revenue competition and so on) Spotify and other services such as Internet radio, are training users to think about music in a new way - not as collected 'items' selected à la carte and delivered to the table, but as a bustling buffet, with the entire global oeuvre just there to be listened to whenever and in whatever order is required.
But if those are the dots, they might be misleading. It can't be the case that Apple (or Nokia for that matter, which also has ambitions in the music market) hasn't seen Spotify (or something similar) coming for years - the migration to more cloud-hosted music is an obvious trend with the development of music on MySpace for instance, not to mention the prevalence of music videos on YouTube.
If Apple blocked a legitimate music service like Spotify on the basis of unabashed commercial self-interest it would be a gift to its competitors - especially the openness and neutrality champion, Android. And it would also be so ironic: how could the 'cool' Apple be seen to be erecting a dreaded garden wall? As it surely knows by now, walls don't work they only infuriate.
My guess is that we'll soon seeSpotfiy Mobile (or others like it) on the iPhone and other phone platforms and we may even eventually see Spotify-style options from Apple as well.
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