As I referenced at the end of my previous post, Spotify – the European streaming music service – has struck a deal with UK mobile operator 3, bundling the cost of their premium subscription into the phone tariff.  I’ve done a few press calls on the story today and the recurring question has been “where does this leave Nokia’s Comes With Music”.


Although the business model and value proposition are very different in many respects (thus suggesting risk of direct competition is low), there are also many similarities. Both offer unlimited music free to the end consumer, and now both are mobile. The distinctions between streaming and downloading is becoming increasingly irrelevant to end users (though rights bodies will continue to obsess about the distinction). The differences the consumer feels are of course what matters.  Given that CWM and Spotify have comparable catalogue, the key differences between fully subsidized mobile offerings will be:


  1. Ownership of the music
  2. Amount of music you can play ‘offline’
  3. The device / service experience


The latter is what will really count.  Ultimately what people want from a mobile music experience is something that works well as an extension of their device (compared to a PC centred experience where demands and expectations are higher).  In effect mobile music services have to work well as a feature of the handset. So Spotify and CWM both need to achieve deep handset and operator integration (e.g. permanent home screen buttons etc.) to make the experience feel like an integral feature of the phone experience. If either achieve that, and create a compelling business case for operators, they’ll stand a good chance of success with multiple partners, by being a feature rather than a service.