Today Spotify announced iPod support. Essentially it has reverse-engineered enough of the Apple iPod’s protocols to let you connect an iPod and sync a Spotify playlist to it.
The catch: in order to sync a playlist you have to buy MP3s for all the tracks it includes.
Spotify has great software and I love the service, though sadly it is now crippled for free users. It already supports smartphone users through an offline feature, combined with a mobile app, though this requires a premium account.
The new model is different. Instead of being an offline cache for streamed music, it is old-style MP3 purchase. In fact, the promotional video presents the new feature in simple terms: you can now purchase and download your Spotify playlist.
So what is Spotify now? A streaming service, or a download service? Was the crippling of the free service done with this in mind, to push users towards MP3 purchase? Is this another symptom of music industry pressure? Will Spotify further cripple its streaming service, to promote download purchases?
Personally I have little interest in yet another MP3 download option. For iPod or iPhone users, Apple iTunes wins on usability and integration, Amazon MP3 on price.
I have great interest in subscription though. Spotify has been liberating in this respect. Want to play something? Just search and play, instantly. That is what Spotify does so well. It should stick with it, rather than moving back into the download era.