hindenburgAs the region’s reigning consumer web champion, there can never be enough stories about Spotify. And since today they’ve released a verison for Android and some new user & track figures, it’s a good time as any to wonder what the future might hold for them. Especially in light of Apple’s recent acquisition of US based La La Media. Caught on tape at Le Web, Spotify “Consigliere” Shakil Khan announced that they now have 7 million users in 6 countries choosing from 6.5 million tracks and listening for an average of 80-90 minutes per user. 

When asked the million billion dollar question about when the service will launch in the US, Khan reiterated the 1Q10 time frame that has been given before. Interestingly, he also said that one of the main delays has been setting up a corporate infrastructure in the US including “business licences and visas,” as well as operations and ad sales teams in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. Spotify has used this type of careful building since the beginning, and it is a credit to they way that they think about user experience, considering problems that would result from not being fully prepared as a degradation to the end service. However, with attitudes towards the non-ownership model changing rapidly, there will be an element of first-mover advantage to whomever can launch an insanely great streaming service in the US, and even more so if that first-mover happens to be called Apple. Will Spotify be dead-on-arrival in the US if Apple launches an iTunes streaming service before they’re ready?

The answer, unfortunately, seems to be yes. If Apple uses La La’s technology and executives to launch what would surely be an appealing service to go head-to-head with Spotify in the US, the advantage seems to tilt towards AAPL. Here’s why:

  1. Apple’s not venture backed. Even a reported war chest of as much as $250 million, might not help Spotify outspend Apple, with quarterly revenues close to $10 billion, on talent, technology and content. A some point, they’d have to throw in the towel.
  2. Spotify may be the best hope for the record labels, but at the moment it’s iTunes that’s paying the bills, and getting the leverage and perks of buyer power. 
  3. Apple is, you know, kind of ruthless. They might be willing to keep the Spotify application in the app store, but it would just take a couple of tricks from Microsoft’s “pre-installed IE” hat to get users hooked on streaming iTunes before they can even learn what a Spotify is.

This is all speculation, and of course it’s fully possible that the US market is big enough for more than one successful player in this market. Nonetheless, we wish Spotify the best in all future battles!