Tomorrow is Google-phone day, and the question of the day seems to be: will Google make its Android offering just a little more appealing by adding — and more importantly subsidizing — specialty apps like streaming music player Spotify into the Android OS.
It’s an interesting question, and calls to mind the practices of mobile operators which have long cut deals to put content and services from third-parties onto the carrier deck.
The Spotify rumor is interesting for a number of reasons. The Spotify service has been a bit hit overseas, but due to ongoing label negotiations has yet to appear in the U.S. The service, available in ad-supported free and for-fee versions, is perhaps the best implementation yet of the “jukebox-in-the-sky,” allowing subscribers to access tons of music at low- or no-cost.
A built-in Android version of Spotify, particularly one subsidized by Google, would not only be very appealing to users but also be perhaps the most direct counter-attack on Apple’s iTunes. At the end of the day, both Google and Apple need their mobile platforms to not just deliver content like music or movies but to be legitimate “buying engines” that customers can use to make purchases of all kinds. In that scenario, a music subsidy is simply a trojan horse to get people onto the platform.
Check out the Spotify Android app below for a sense of how it might one day compete with iTunes.