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Streaming music service claims it won't cause US 3G networks to buckle, but its success will hinge on operator and label partnerships
July 14, 2011
Spotify made its long-awaited U.S. debut Thursday, promising users a streaming music service that will run well on operators' 3G networks.
The music application will be available to U.S. consumers as an invite-only (for now) free, ad-supported mobile and desktop app or as a US$4.99 paid subscription service for access to its millions of tracks.
Motorola Mobility LLC is partnering with the company at launch, giving its customers early access to a $9.99 Premium version of the on-demand service that lets users stream to Android-based smartphones. The Premium service will also run on iPhone, Symbian Ltd. , Windows Phone and Palm Inc. devices. (See Spotify Launches App for iPhone, Android.)
Here's Spotify tooting its own horn:
Why this matters
Spotify is the type of service that will show the true power of 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks in terms of speed and latency, but it will also test the limits of operators' already-stressed 3G networks in the U.S. The company says it expects to perform just fine on 3G. Its FAQ recommends 256Kbit/s for optimal performance. (See Happy Birthday, LTE! )
The site says: "Spotify usually works well on a 3G connection. Plenty of free disk space also helps keep the network requirements down as it enables more caching."
The U.S. will be a critical market for the company for more than just performance, however. Spotify's rampant success with more than 10 million Europeans earned it a spot on Light Reading's list of companies to watch this year, and could give other music services such as Rhapsody Networks a run for its money. (See Leading Lights: Mobile Services/Apps Finalists.)
Getting to the States was no easy task, either. Negotiations with music labels have held the launch up for nearly two years, and the app's success will depend on its ability to scale, as well as to forge partnerships with wireless operators. Informa Telecoms & Media says Spotify could fare well if it can replicate what helped it win over Europe and feed off the strength of its free service. (See Virgin Media Teams With Spotify and 3 UK Teams With Spotify.)
"In a sense, it must simply repeat the formula that has served it so well in Europe: A clean, intuitive user interface, deep links with properties like Facebook and Last.fm (a Pandora deal is not out of the question) and high penetration across mobile handsets and other devices," Informa Principal Analyst Giles Cottle writes in a research note.
Read up on streaming music and its effect on wireless networks:
Leap Hopes Music Will Muve It Nationwide
Mu Helps Operators Shape App-Aware Networks
Cricket Comes With Music Too
Top 10 Apps LTE Will Super-Charge
App Focus: Premium Shazam Comes to Android
5 Mobile Apps That Bust Data Caps
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile
Director, Women in Comms
Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.
She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.
As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.
Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.
Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.
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