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What If Apple Blocks Spotify’s iPhone App?

It’s been a looming issue ever since the streaming music service said an iPhone app would be part of its premium offering, and little’s changed since then. But maybe that’s the problem.

Comments from Spotify’s community manager in the Evening Standard (via MusicAlly) at least suggest the company hasn’t been working out a special deal with Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), and is operating much as any hopeful app developer: “We really don’t know if Apple will give us the go-ahead, and all we can do it submit our software then wait and see. It’s something of a black hole.” That would be quite some development investment without knowing whether the app would even be allowed…

One school of thought holds that letting Spotify’s unlimited on-demand music on to iPhone would cannibalise iTunes Store downloads. On the other hand, as MusicAlly points out, Apple has already shifted many copies of the Pandora and Last.fm apps. But, unlike Spotify, those apps don’t offer on-demand streaming of any songs a user chooses – instead, a stream of thematically related tunes – more like a radio stations than a jukebox.

Apple has already been opening its App Store up to bands and labels who want to push their music through this new channel rather than the iTunes Store – but it’s been treading forward awkwardly, once banning the Nine Inch Nails app for containing a link to a song with profanity. Even if Apple were unconcerned by any cannibalisation threat, if it applied the same logic as that, it would block Spotify’s app for offering access to the hundreds of tracks out there with sweary lyrics.

Still, we’re not there yet. Mobile apps is one of the few features Spotify has so far confirmed it will offer to only premium payers – an iPhone concept video first leaked in February and an Android demo presented at Google I/O in May. Other current premium drivers include advance album release windows and ticket giveaways; possible future ideas are other devices/platforms, live sessions, and content like interviews and features.

13 Responses to “What If Apple Blocks Spotify’s iPhone App?”

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  3. werbeartikel shop

    I appreciate blogs are meant to be provocative with their headlines – but this ‘what if’ scenario is about as newsworthy as ‘what if the moon was the sun?’ – neither Apple’s strategy in music, justifies any of the frankly weak arguments being perpetuated. Robert Andrews is seriously clutching at straws with the argument I’ve pasted below—which tries to very clumsily use the Apple objection to NIN’s profanity as some kind of obscure reason why they would object to Spotify (this argument makes no sense).
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  4. Taiwan User

    Apple already approved a local music streaming/download service called KKBox for Taiwan users. i believe Apple will not block any other similar service.

  5. <a href="http://www.ge

    The app is too good for Iphone and they will sell like crazy with it. Spotify will only help Apple sell more iPhones, that’s why it went into the iTunes business in the first place.

  6. Jason Cooper

    @Dave – ''Apple makes the rules and it can accept or deny based on any number of factors.''

    I think this is the main point here. On an open platform how many people want Apple moderating what's allowed and what's not?

    It's unlikely Apple will reject a Spotify app, though I'm sure it will have its restrictions. And all of a sudden, Apple look a little out of touch.

  7. Staci D. Kramer

    @Dave —

    I appreciate your comments. I was using video as an example of the whole process. (I can find others but frankly it's late, it's been a long day and that's the one I chose.) I'm not suggesting Apple is anti-Spotify or pro anything (except its own apps), just that Apple makes the rules and it can accept or deny based on any number of factors.

  8. Staci, what Apple may or may not have done in video is conflating the issue. this is about music, and there seems to be a perpetuation of a myth that Apple is anti-Spotify — with no evidence so far of Apple having ever sought to limit free streaming music services via the app store, nor they ever having viewed free music streaming as a direct competition to the iTunes Store (which frankly has a very different USP and business model).

    I appreciate blogs are meant to be provocative with their headlines – but this 'what if' scenario is about as newsworthy as 'what if the moon was the sun?' – neither Apple's strategy in music, justifies any of the frankly weak arguments being perpetuated. Robert Andrews is seriously clutching at straws with the argument I've pasted below — which tries to very clumsily use the Apple objection to NIN's profanity as some kind of obscure reason why they would object to Spotify (this argument makes no sense). for the same reason of profanity, they could have blocked imeem, but they haven't.

    "but it’s been treading forward awkwardly, once banning the Nine Inch Nails app for containing a link to a song with profanity. Even if Apple were unconcerned by any cannibalisation threat, if it applied the same logic as that, it would block Spotify’s app for offering access to the hundreds of tracks out there with sweary lyrics."

  9. Staci D. Kramer

    @Dave — The acceptance of one iPhone app in a genre doesn't mean the acceptance of all or approval under the same circumstances. (MLB.com can deliver live streaming games on 3g or WiFii through its app but March Madness was WiFi only.) Spotify should be accepted but Apple can disagree with the way the code is designed or any number of things. Bottom line: acceptance isn't a given — and acceptance doesn't guarantee an app will be there ad infinitum.

  10. Apple has already okayed imeem on the app store, which is an on-demand streaming platform — unlike Pandora and Last.fm — so there is no reason Spotify won't be approved too. (come on, again, more research pls Paidcontent).
    most of the Apple staff use Spotify themselves, so there's a natural fanbase built into the company.

  11. Bombtune

    This will be a major litmus test on open platforms for complimentary apps.

    Spotify will only help Apple sell more iPhones, that's why it went into the iTunes business in the first place. Use music content as a hardware selling point.

    I do think a Spotify US presence will crimp Apple downloads as music listeners shift from copies to music cloud streams.

    I think Apple will release the app but return to each label to get most favored nations deals and turn its platform into an all you can eat subscription model. No ads, just a pass.