Cloud Wars Episode II – The Swedes Strike Back

Back in April I correctly predicted that Spotify would soon offer their mobile service to all customers, including free accounts, following their restrictions placed on non paying users; this is a huge step for them in the ongoing battle to get a full cloud service out there. To be clear, this update does not allow non-paying users to stream music that they do not own – only the tracks they have synced from their personal computer to their device. The desktop version of Spotify has been able to sync a users owned music over WiFi to a the mobile device for some time, a smart move on Spotify’s part to save streaming bandwidth costs. This new update now includes iPod syncing, something that has required the owners to always be tied to iTunes. Today’s announcement is really significant in terms of getting users into the Spotify ecosystem and in my opinion really puts Lorentzon & Ek’s company out there as the leaders in the cloud race.

Apple, Amazon and Spotify already account for 90% of  worldwide digital music revenues for and I think this move could prove to be a significant shift in Spotify’s publicised revenue problems if they can get customers to move away from Apple. This is all the more likely given their pending US launch and the hype around the lack of launch for the last yeat. Having worked on the original purchasing implementation, which was powered by 7digital, it was actually quite interesting to see how many purchases were made through it when users could still listen for free – it really points to users’ preference to own their music over the “rental” streaming model.

I think the most interesting outcome from all of this will be the backlash reaction from Apple. In the past, Apple have changed the way that music is stored on iPods during software updates to prevent third-party software from being able to move music onto the device. It wouldn’t take much for Apple to do this and I wouldn’t be surprised if the next software updates will cause problems for the engineers  over in Gothenberg & Stockholm.

The other question surrounds the iOS app and whether Apple will allow future updates to it or if they will even just remove it from the app store entirely. At 7digital we’ve struggled to get our iOS app through the submission process; an app that does considerably less to compete with iTunes and the iPod compared to that from Spotify. Unless Spotify has an agreement with Apple – which I find highly unlikely, I wouldn’t be surprised if the app store guidelines change to say if your app name contains the word ‘Spot’  and your logo is green then it can’t exist in the app store.

On top of this there is the well documented case of Apple wanting 30% of any app subscriptions which would effectively ruin Spotify’s model as they will not be able to operate on these terms. I guess the ball is now in Apple’s court.


Mike Skinner’s souper new way to distribute music

I’ve spent a lot of time listening to the genre bending Beat Stevie podcasts by The Streets of late. Mike Skinner and Ted Mayhem fuse together everything from Dubstep to Country, overlayed with the kind of nonsense hilarious conversations that you wish you could have all the time.  They fill the 3 hour long drive on trips back to see my parents nicely, they’ve helped find a common ground in music taste between my wife and I and they’ve got me through the most arduous days at work.

Mike Skinner’s use of social media has been trumpeted recently; his constant stream of Youtube video responses to fans questions on Twitter and poetic ramblings over his trademark beats are enough to keep any fan baying for more. He’s amongst a lineup of celebrities that “get” technology and social media and know how to make the most of it for their own benefit.

His latest “stunt” is to release the newest episode of the Beat Stevie podcast through the use of a an iPhone app, a barcode on his website and a second barcode which you have to hunt down. The second barcode is printed on the side of a 300g tin of Heinz Tomato Soup. There’s doubtless going to me a lot of frustated fans, those without iPhones and those whose local supermarket don’t stock that soup come to mind straight away.  But it doesn’t matter, it’ll be talked about, a lot, which is the exactly the point.

Right I’m off to the Co-op, do you need anything?

UPDATE: I’ve realised you can photograph the barcode on the website twice to get the podcast in case you refuse to shop anywher but M&S.

Early to bed and early to rise…

…makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Matt from work pointed me at an iPhone app last week called SleepCycle. It monitors your sleep patterns and can ‘apparently’ improve your morning state by waking you up at the most opportune moment, i.e. when you are in the lightest stage of sleep.

The iPhone needs to be placed on the bed while you sleep and uses the accelerometer to monitor your restlessness or lack thereof to work out how deeply you are sleeping. The first couple of days are used for calibration so it can ‘learn’ what kind of sleeper you are.

After the first night using the app I was quite surprised by the resulting sleep graph. I do distinctly remember being awake a couple of times during the night which you can clearly see on the graph around 4am and 6am. I was also surprised to see that i had gone to sleep so quickly as I feel like I normally spend ages trying to get to sleep.

I’m interested to see how it goes over the next few days and whether it makes me a ‘better’ person in the mornings!