3 recently announced its new tariff bundling digital music service Spotify with unlimited data, texts and a free HTC Hero. This includes subscription to Spotify Premium, usually £9.99 a month, which gives you unlimited, ad-free music streaming and, recently, the ability to use the service on your mobile - anywhere you have 3G coverage, you have access to full Spotify; out of range and you can still play your playlists.
Other companies have similar services of course - the closest one is Nokia's Comes With Music, which bundles all you can download tunes with a voice/data contract and a handful of XpressMusic phones. But we think it's the 3-Spotify alliance that's going to change mobile music.
No DRM tangles. Songs downloaded via Comes With Music are DRM-protected and can only be listened to on the registered phone and PC. Spotify Premium lets you access songs and playlists from any computer. (The deal 3 has with Spotify gives you access to Spotify Premium at the discounted price only if you use the inbox voucher, which is tied to the phone.)
Offline playlists. Being able to access playlists offline effectively means you download your chosen songs, putting Spotify on equal footing with the one area where Comes With Music had the advantage. Plus, Spotify on the Tube. Yes, please.
Massive consumer base already. While recent take-up figures for Comes With Music weren't high, Spotify Premium already has 6 million subscribers and millions more listen to Spotify free, which points to a reasonable likelihood that previous free listeners would adopt a phone/Spotify tariff, espeically as it also works out to a discounted Spotify subscription.
Available for lots of phones. Spotify's mobile app is currently available for Android and iPhone, with Symbian S60 support to come. As 3 expands its range of Spotify phones, users will get to choose from a good variety of smartphones from different manufacturers and at different price brackets. Now for the other operators to get onboard...
3's Spotify Mobile tariff with HTC Hero launches in November.