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Last week, Spotify dramatically teased a "new direction" for the company. On Wednesday, the popular music-streaming service announced that new path: Spotify Apps. Free apps from Rolling Stone, Last.fm (an internet radio service), and others will give users new ways of interacting with their music by, say, offering reviews or fun facts about a band or suggesting playlists. Some say this announcement is "underwhelming." Is it really?
How utterly disappointing: "Spotify’s new app platform may be a smart move for the company, but it's underwhelming for... users and doesn't offer potential partners much value," says Janko Roettgers at GigaOM. Spotify's apps have a number of shortcomings: They'll only work from a desktop client, not on mobile devices; they'll only be allowed to use Spotify songs — "that means you won’t get any great mashups between music services"; and they're free, giving developers little incentive to develop them and making it likely that apps will feature annoying ads. This is a "pure power play" for dominance that's unlikely to spur creativity.
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It will all depend on the app developers: "I wasn't much impressed with most of the apps" Spotify featured in its presentation, says Greg Sandoval at CNET. I don't really need a special Rolling Stone app to help me read reviews as I listen (I can just open my browser). The Songkick app provided some obscure info about my favorite artists and when they're touring, which was nice but not exactly thrilling. I question how much "music fans care about new ways to interact with their music." Hopefully, cooler apps are in the works, but with no scope to generate revenue — unlike apps for iTunes and Android — it's unclear what motivation developers will have.
This is an exciting move: "Spotify's new app platform definitely gives the service an edge over its competition," like iTunes Match and Google Music, says Ginny Mies at PCWorld. Spotify is great if you know what music you want to hear, but not if you're looking for new tunes. Apps like Last.fm could solve that; it suggests songs and creates playlists based on your listening habits. One of the most intriguing apps, We Are Hunted, creates "top song charts" by looking at iTunes downloads, social media, message boards, and other platforms. "These initial apps are just the beginning — and I can't wait to see what else developers come up with."
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