Posts Tagged ‘Spotify’

Spotify introduces new tiers, but reserves mobile as a premium perk

Spotify has announced two new packages, named “Spotify Unlimited” and “Spotify Open”, the latter of which makes a free version of the music steaming service available again without the need for an invite.

Until recently, there were only two options: “Spotify Free”, available as a desktop application only and ad-supported. And “Spotify Premium”, which offers higher bit-rate streams, no adverts, and the ability to access the service – including caching tracks for offline playback – on both the desktop and mobile client, all for £9.99 per month.

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3's CEO talks iPad, the mobile network's 'perception problem', Spotify, and more

3logo3UK’s CEO talks about how the network is planning to address its ‘legacy perception problem’ and why bidding for the iPad would be like trying to sign a premiership footballer

I’ve just got back from a fascinating press briefing with mobile carrier 3UK’s CEO Kevin Russell and CTO Graham Baxter, billed as a discussion of the “themes, trends and challenges that will shape the mobile industry in the UK in 2010.” Although the subtext was something more along the lines of: how is 3 addressing what was described as its legacy perception problem.

People still, wrongly or rightly, often associate the network with poor coverage and/or service. This despite the fact that the network’s coverage and capacity has and is improving and that in my view 3 is one of the most, if not the most, innovative of the UK networks, especially on pricing, data services and positioning.

Here’s what I learnt during two presentations and the very frank Q&A that took place afterwards:

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The Guardian newspaper's iPhone app offers off-line mode – mobile Internet's killer feature?

guardian-iphoneThe Guardian has released a paid-for iPhone (and iPod touch) app that makes reading the UK newspaper on Apple’s device a truly smartphone experience.

Along with features such as the ability to customize the newspaper’s ‘front page’, support for audio, finger-friendly navigation, including ‘swiping’ through photo galleries, the feature that really stands out is off-line browsing.

As I write over at TechCrunch Europe, the functionality…

… works in a similar way to music streaming service Spotify’s own iPhone app. Sections of the newspaper can be ‘cached’ in advance to enable access when outside of a WiFi network or mobile signal. As with listening to music, this is particularly appropriate for reading a newspaper on-the-go, such as when commuting on London’s Underground or any other subway for that matter. The app also offers access to the various Guardian podcasts, which can be downloaded in advance or streamed.

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3 and Spotify point to the future of music purchasing

hero-spotify-3UK carrier 3 has teamed up with Spotify to offer a mobile tariff that includes a premium subscription, no ads and mobile usage, for the popular European (US launch pending) music streaming service. While the offer in itself is news worthy – it’s quite an attractive deal (more below) – perhaps more interesting is that the model may well point to the future of paid-for music.

Prior to 3’s offering, those wanting to utilize Spotify’s service on their handset were required to take out a premium subscription costing £10 per month in the UK. That’s quite high when competing against “free”, such as ad-supported offerings (including Spotify’s own, which prohibits mobile access) or illegal file downloads and the like.

However, by burying the premium subscription within a user’s monthly mobile tariff the service begins to enter the needed “feels like free” territory that self-proclaimed media futurist Gerd Leonhard has been talking about for years.

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Spotify hits the iPhone and Android app stores

The stars were already aligned: a preemptive PR strike, a premium business model, and regulators questioning anti-competitive practices with relation to the iPhone’s app store — making it less and less surprising that Apple should give Spotify the green light.

See also: How Spotify can beat Microsoft [music streaming]

As of today, the iPhone version of the music streaming service is available for download from Apple’s official App Store — UK, Sweden, Spain, France, Norway and Finland only (with the U.S. debut planned for sometime next year) — while a mobile client for the Google-led Android has also launched. The app is free for either platform but you’ll need to be a Spotify premium subscriber — £10 per month in the UK — to access the service.

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Spotify on iPhone approved by Apple

With Apple stuck between the FCC, Eurpean Union regulators and a hard place, I’m not that surprised to see the approval of music streaming service Spotify’s iPhone app. Apple today confirmed to paidContent that Spotify (currently Europe-only) has been given the green light and will be available in the App Store “very soon”.

While many had speculated that the app might be rejected by Cupertino on the grounds of ‘duplicating’ (read: competing with) the iPhone’s built in functionality — iTunes — I was confident that, especially in the current climate, Spotify would be approved.

I predict that Apple will in the end give Spotify the green light based on several factors. Avoiding monopoly accusations being one. Spotify’s pricing model being another (the iPhone app will only be available to premium subscribers so it’s far from a free-for-all). And then there’s Apple’s kludgy multitasking solution. The latter of which means that Spotify on iPhone will be unable to run in the background. Switch to a different app and the music stops.

One thing we don’t yet know, however, is if Apple has in anyway restricted any of the features of the Spotify iPhone app, in particular the ability to cache playlists for off-line playback. This feature alone means that Spotify competes more heavily with iTunes than other streaming music apps that already exist for the iPhone.

Overall though it looks like great news for Spotify and bodes well for the future of Rhapsody’s iPhone app, which is currently pending Apple’s approval.

Real's Rhapsody enters App Store submission hell, could bode well for Spotify?

Adopting a similar PR strategy to Spotify, U.S.-only music subscription service Rhapsody ($14.99-a-month) has published details of its iPhone app, mid submission process to Apple’s App Store. While submitting an app alone far from guarantees that it will ever see the light of day through Cupertino’s official channel, by showing off the app now, including a video demo (below), it does ensure that any dirty linen on Apple’s part is aired in public. It also helps to build consumer demand from existing Rhapsody subscribers who also own an iPhone in preparation for a backlash should the app be rejected.

And rejection is certainly a possibility.

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Music streaming service Spotify demos Android app, off-line syncing included!

Spotify on the Google phone

Spotify on the Google phone

Music streaming service Spotify already offers a very compelling desktop experience. The Mac and Windows client features the familiar iTunes-esque User Interface, a fast growing music catalogue and the ad-supported free-ness that is so popular with users who otherwise might source their music from P2P filesharing networks. That’s all well and good but ad revenue alone is unlikely to generate enough revenue for Spotify to stay in business. Instead, the company is hoping that over time enough users will opt for the monthly paid-for subscription version and it’s here that mobile could be key.

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Napster tries again, unlimited streaming and five downloads for $5 per-month

Napster tries again

Napster tries again

Now under the stewardship of Best Buy, Napster is taking yet-another-stab at offering a compelling music service since its glorious P2P days of yesteryear. This time round the company is touting the combination of unlimited streaming of its 7 million strong music library in combination with 5 DRM-free downloads per month, all for a monthly subscription of just five dollars. “Music fans now have the best of both worlds”, boasts the press release.

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7digtal powers MP3 downloads on AOL's Winamp, following similar Spotify and Songbird partnerships

winamp1-7digital7digital has announced a partnership with AOL to integrate its music download store with AOL’s popular Windows-based music player Winamp, following similar deals with Spotify and Songbird.

Built using 7digital’s publicly available API, European users of Winamp can purchase tracks from 7digital’s six million strong MP3 catalogue through the application’s ‘Now Playing’ menu, as well as access additional artist, track and album information.

The partnership follows a similar arrangement with open source music player Songbird (a top ten digital lifestyle product of 08) and the new favorite kid on the block, music streaming service Spotify (last100 review), although in Songbird’s case, the 7digtal store is more prominent, featuring its own dedicated iTunes Store-esque menu item (see screen shot below).

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