The news that Spotify’s mobile app is now available for the Android platform, coupled with an anticipated Autumn US launch, are both part of the music service’s inexorable rise and media interest.Spotify undoubtedly has momentum and potential in abundance.But, even without considering the issue of cash burn, it is also important to keep a sense of scale. Spotify has done a great job of acquiring a sizeable audience after a short period of time, but needs many more users before it can be considered on a par with some more established services that get a lot less attention (these days at any rate).
In the chart below I have mapped the number of users of Spotify and a number of other key free music services, each from launch.What is clear is that Spotify has made a solid start is growing at a stronger rate than Pandora was at the same stage.If Spotify ever reaches Pandora’s scale and business model viability, it will rightly be considered a success.
But it is also clear that other services like Last.FM and imeem grew more quickly.And just to put the absolute scale of Spotify into perspective, the Pandora iPhone app alone is mapping almost exactly in line with Spotify’s entire user base. (No coincidence of course that Spotify see the iPhone app as a crucially important ticket to further success).
Today CourseSmart, a joint venture of five of the biggest textbook publishers, is launching an iPhone app to augment its Web subscription service for eTextbooks. Its subscription service offers access to more than 7,000 textbooks, at an average of 50% off print prices. Currently, CourseSmart has a few hundred thousand student subscribers, out of a potential addressable market of 13 million US college students (they only target higher education, not K-12, for now).
The iPhone app is nice, with a snappy thumbnail browse feature. It's not something you'd read on, per se, but offers easy access to look up something, search for something, or access your notes. Having the option of mobile access will undoubtedly increase the appeal of CourseSmart's subscription service, assuming the company is successful at marketing the new feature.
Currently, CourseSmart's content isn't integrated into the Kindle or other dedicated reading devices; this app marks its first move into increasing access to eTextbooks on any kind of mobile device. Maintaining print-identical formatting and pagination is a crucial aspect of its product; eReading devices aren't ready to support this type of content yet, but the iPhone is a move that makes sense.
Too many firms are building their mobile strategies as a mere extension of the PC Internet, and are missing out on what's now possible when mobile, but which remains impossible using a PC.
A PC is always going to be limited to deliver a part time Internet experience. They are too bulky, too heavy, too power hungry, and increasingly too dependent on the assumption that a super fast fixed-quality broadband connection is present to be something that people will have with them all of the time 24x7. If a PC evolved to be suitable for 24x7 use it wouldn't be a PC anymore.
Today's Internet mobiles offer people that 24x7 digital life. People are becoming connected 24x7 through their Internet phones and that must transform the strategies that firms adopt. Mobile enables a 24x7 relationship between brands and consumers. Mobile enables people to interact with websites 24x7, both to consume -- read and browse -- and to contribute. Mobile opens up new business models through the fusion of location awareness and a 24x7 Internet-connected device.
The first and clearest example of this new world is what's happening with social computing. People are now able to lurk on Facebook or Bebo at anytime, or post photos onto Flickr that are taggged with where they were taken (as well as when).