The crowded Internet radio space is one step closer to a showdown: TechCrunch reported this weekend that Spotify plans to launch a browser-based version of its music streaming platform.
Until now, the successful music-streaming program has only been available via download; its desktop software hasn’t been updated in more than a year, TechCrunch reports.
“The first benefit I think they’d be looking for is eliminating the friction of having to download an app,” says Mike McGuire, a Gartner research vice president who covers the online music sector. "If Spotify gets users into the browser, they can get them involved with the experience in fewer steps. And then they can move them into the paid service faster.”
McGuire also speculated that the move might make for more advertising revenue, as the Internet allows for a wider array of advertising formats.
Born in Sweden and now based in London, Spotify first launched in 2006, and expanded to the U.S. market in July 2011. The site now has 15 million montly active users, Time reports--up from 3 million a year ago--with 4 million of them paying for premium service.
But the site also faces increasing competition in the Web radio space. In addition to online radio stalwart Pandora, tech giant Apple is also said to be developing a music streaming service. High-end streaming service Sonos also got a whopper $135 million funding round this summer.
Web radio appears to be headed for a shakeout, McGuire says, with streaming services (like Sonos, Pandora, or Spotify) in conflict with download-based products like Apple's iTunes.
“There’s going to be an oncoming battle between users,” he says. “Will it be pay-to-access or pay-to-own that will win? I think that sometime in the future--except extreme music fans and audiophiles--it will be pay-to-access.”