Spotify goes apptastic

Adele singing Adele prevents Spotify from using her recent work

What's every self-respecting tech firm got to have these days? A platform, and apps to put on it, that's what.

Last night the music streaming service Spotify announced at a news conference in New York that it was opening up its platform so that customers could use various applications to enrich their listening experience.

Back in the summer, Facebook, which started the app trend a few years ago, announced it was integrating Spotify and other media services into its platform.

Earlier this week the streaming hi-fi hardware maker Sonos announced that it was opening up its API (Application Programming Interface) so that music services could build apps - and those already include Spotify. Everyone, it seems, is "appifying" on each other's platforms. Where will it all end?

There was a big build-up to Spotify's first ever press conference, where the founder Daniel Ek strode around the stage proclaiming his excitement, before introducing a band. All very Apple and Steve Jobs - but did the announcement quite match up to the expectations?

Spotify users will now be able to look up song lyrics, find out about gigs as they listen to their favourite artists, or share the experience through apps made by top brands like Rolling Stone. But how many people are hanging around their computers to interact with apps while their Spotify playlists are streaming around the house?

It is hard to see this as the game-changer it has been for other app platforms like Facebook and Apple.

But in London, where the New York event was relayed to a basement bar, Spotify's UK boss Chris Maples told me this was something customers had been crying out for. "We've had tons of requests from consumers - this really rounds off the experience."

But surely the key to the business is simply getting people to upgrade from the free to the premium service - so why was the arrival of apps so important? "This will encourage people to stay with the service longer and longer", he told me, "and it will stop people looking outside for other things they can't get here."

The really big moment in Spotify's short life came in the summer, when it launched in the United States. With 2.5 million paying customers, some of the questions about its long-term viability seem to have gone away. But that's made the rumblings of discontent from artists who claim they are getting pennies for hundreds of thousands of plays grow ever louder.

Some notable artists - Adele and Coldplay for instance - have kept recent albums off the service, and there is still a job to be done before the music business as a whole learns to love Spotify.

What it can now claim to be is the most impressive new technology firm to have come out of Europe in the last five years.

And with Songkick and - two firms to have emerged from London's startup scene - contributing apps to the new platform, yesterday's event was heartening evidence that European firms can work together to make a big noise in the global music industry.

Rory Cellan-Jones Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    There have been denials: Carrier IQ is not actually a "rootkit keylogger."
    But the company has not yet published technical details on how its software works. It says more will be forthcoming soon; so, users have continued to question. Apple finally responded iOS 5 doesn't fully use Carrier IQ software, for the most part, & that future versions wouldn't use it at all. Well, that's "iffy".

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Of course, there's out-&-out denial. Representatives of Apple & Google didn't respond to request for comments. In November, security researcher Trevor Eckhart issued a report on Carrier IQ's software, calling it a rootkit that could be used to log detailed information about a mobile-phone user's activities. Carrier IQ threatened to sue Eckhart, but backed off. Why if there was nothing amiss?

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Device many of us carry in our pockets seems to have morphed into a virtual spy phone. Carrier IQ's software may be secretly installed on 140 million mobile phones. Software has ability to track phone numbers dialed, keystrokes, user location & URLs of websites the user visits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Could the plot really be to get the public onto any IQ Carrier? Consumer Watchdog has called for US Govt investigation. Carrier IQ Test: Android App Detects "Controversial" Software. Carrier IQ Rootkit Reportedly Logs Everything On Millions Of Phones. Consumer group on Friday sent letters to US Attorney General Eric Holder & US Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I have been signed up to Spotify for the last few years now and pay the premium service. I think it it great, but they still lack hundreds of thousands of tracks. Anything or anyone that can stand up to the bitten fruit is highly welcome. I can´t stand the hipe and over reactions to i things.


Comments 5 of 16



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