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Spotify iPhone App: A Threat to iTunes (and Pandora. and and Slacker.)?

July 27, 2009

The Swedish music service Spotify just announced their application’s submission to the iPhone App store. Similar to the company’s Android application, the iPhone app gives users the ability to search for tracks and create music streaming play lists. One key feature of both applications is that it allows users to cache music for offline play. With this sort of functionality, it will be interesting to see if Spotify’s app will be taken as a threat to iTunes. If this were the case, then Spotify’s little green iPhone app might never make its way onto the device.

Often touted as one of the best music streaming services, Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek made a statement to the Register about his upcoming plans for a one-click download solution. This means that unlike other music applications like Pandora or Last.FM, the site would compete directly against iTunes as a store. As for the iPhone application, audiophiles simply select the tracks they’d like to listen to, and Spotify automatically syncs files to an offline playlist. This means that eager music fans can listen to their tunes from the subways, elevators and underground parking lots that normally plague their commutes to work.

This sort of ease-of-use is exactly why Spotify already celebrates an estimated 5 million member user base despite only being available in the UK, Sweden, Norway, Spain, France and Finland. The company already has European licensing deals with Universal, Sony, Warner and EMI and it solidified an American licensing agreement with the Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA) last week. The recent deal brings Spotify’s catalogue to well over 7 million files. The company plans to launch in the US before the end of the year.

However, don’t get too excited; to use the mobile version of Spotify, you’ll need a premium subscription. The service isn’t available in the U.S. yet, but a premium subscription in the U.K. costs 10 pounds a month, which translates to about $16.50 at today’s exchange rate. That’s in line with prices for other portable subscription music services like the Zune Pass or Rhapsody to Go. Those services aren’t available for the iPod or iPhone, but Spotify’s not doing anything groundbreaking here, just trying to fill a gap that Apple has left open by refusing to introduce its own subscription service. Also, the video demonstration makes it look like you’ve got to side-load playlists from your computer before you can access them on your device. I want what you get with the Zune Pass–the ability to stream songs on demand from any location with a Wi-Fi connection.

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