3 Networks announced today that they will be offering popular music service Spotify on their networks as early as next month in an attempt to differentiate themselves from the other mobile phone operators.
A strategic tie-up between 3 Networks and Spotify was going to happen ever since Li Ka-shing, the elusive billionaire owner of Hutchinson Whampoa, invested around $50 million Spotify back in August 2009 and placed Frank Meehan, the CEO of mobile phone designer INQ, on the board of Spotify.
A direct consequence of the launch of Spotify is that it makes 3Musicstore, Three's white labelled music store, redundant overnight. To be honest, it is unlikely that the service, which is provided by Livewire Mobile, will be sorely missed.
Coincidentally, at the time of writing, the 3Musicstore website is helplessly down, just as Spotify, the new kid on the block rises. 3Musicstore is a classic pay per track system which means that users need to purchase each track they download, a system that Spotify ultimately abolishes.
Furthermore, its content catalog is limited to only 2.5 million full tracks compared to Spotify's estimated 6 million tracks (and growing).
Ultimately, it could mean the end of pay per track solutions as newcomers and existing actors like Napster are forced to review their strategy to survive.
Interestingly Napster powers O2's own music service at the cost of 99p per track. A short while back, O2 launched Spotify on the iPhone and seems at least for now content with leaving Napster alone. But for how long?
It is interesting to see that the O2 page for Napster has not been updated for a while and still show some pretty old mobile phones like the 2006 Motorola K1. Let's hope that Napster brings unlimited mobile sound tracks to O2's network and the iPhone soon to compete with Spotify