Monday, 12 November 2012

Spotify moves into connected TV world with Samsung deal

Samsung announced recently that the Spotify music streaming service is now available on their smart TVs.  While Spotify already has a strong presence in the PC, tablet and smartphone markets, this is its first foray into the TV world.  So what does this mean for Spotify and for Samsung?

Both brands are very strong in their respective areas, but it’s unlikely that Spotify on its own will help Samsung to sell more TVs.  As part of an overall “connected entertainment” offering, though, Spotify is potentially a strong addition.  Exactly how strong may well depend on Spotify’s business model.

Streaming audio services on TVs are nothing new – US customers have been able to enjoy the Pandora streaming service on their TVs and set-top boxes for a couple of years already.  Given this, how will Spotify help Samsung? The most obvious answer is that Pandora is only available in the USA, so customers in Europe and elsewhere can’t use it.  Another reason is that Spotify lets you build your own playlists and select exactly which tracks to play. It seems like Spotify should have a major advantage.

As with other services that move to the TV, though, Spotify will face a challenge in building a user interface that works well on a TV screen with a TV remote.  They seem to have been successful with this on Samsung devices, but if Spotify is to become available on other TVs and set-top boxes then a lot of care needs to be taken to minimise the amount of effort needed to support a consistent user interface on many different platforms.  As services like iPlayer have found, this can be a huge challenge given the current level of market fragmentation.

The second challenge will be the business model for Spotify on connected TVs.  While the (ad-supported) PC version is free, the TV version costs £10 per month - the same price as the mobile version.  The question is therefore; how many people will be willing to pay the extra £10 a month to access this service on their TV, when other entertainment services are available for free?

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