Spotify's lead in paid music streaming might not be as impregnable as it looks. The Wall Street Journal has obtained industry figures suggesting that Apple Music is growing faster than Spotify in the US, adding 5 percent to its base every month versus 'just' 2 percent for Spotify. If that rate continues, Apple could surpass its rival in the country during the summer. There are other numbers to suggest Apple is catching up, for that matter.
It won't shock you to hear that Apple Music has “three to four times” more trial subscribers than Spotify, since that's the only way to listen before you subscribe — there's no parallel to Spotify's free, ad-supported offering. Spotify's lead is much smaller once you omit trials, however. And as the WSJ points out, those who fully intend to pay for Apple Music still have to go through the trial period like everyone else. The trials mask the true growth rates in that regard.
There's no specific explanation for the faster growth rate, but it could easily stem from Apple's dominance on its home turf. It not only has the largest slice of the American smartphone market (44.8 percent in November, according to Comscore), but a familiarity and marketing juggernaut that are difficult to match for a much smaller company like Spotify. When people are both more likely to buy iPhones and more likely to see ads for Apple Music, subscription rates are bound to go up. The abundance of exclusives certainly doesn't hurt.
Spotify still has the lead in many respects, especially outside the US. It has 70 million paying customers versus Apple's 36 million (just announced to the WSJ), but its total user base is believed to be much larger. It was 140 million as of June 2017, and that number has likely gone up. Spotify's influence is also considerably stronger in other parts of the world, where Android holds a clear majority and the service itself has been around for longer (the UK has had Spotify since 2009, for example). Even so, it's easy to imagine Spotify's team feeling nervous if it ends up losing the lead in an important country.
Verizon unlimited subscribers get permanent Apple Music access
Last year, Verizon (which owns Engadget’s parent company) offeredunlimited subscribers six months of free access to Apple Music. Now the carrier is expanding that partnership and officially bundling Beyond Unlimited and Above Unlimited subscriptions with the service. Starting on January 17th, all new and existing customers will be able to enjoy Apple Music at no additional cost. So, those who took advantage of the offer last year will be able to continue accessing the streaming service without having to pay its $10-a-month fee.
According to Verizon VP of Marketing Angie Klein, the company is expanding its partnership with Apple Music, because the original 6-month offer was a hit with customers. Unfortunately, only two out of three unlimited plans are getting Apple Music as a permanent perk. Its cheapest option, Go Unlimited, will still come bundled with free access to the service, but only for six months.
Facebook Launches ‘Watch Parties’ to Binge Videos With Your Friends
Facebook is throwing a video party. Starting today. For everyone.
The social network is launching a new way to have groups of people who may be scattered across the country of globe watch videos together in real time, and comment on them. Unlike many Facebook launches, this will be available to all members today, as long as they are part of a group. It will roll out to other parts of Facebook within a few weeks, the company says.
Viewing video together is something “people do in real life,” says Fidji Simo, Facebook’s vice president of product. “They watch together. We see this as another way to connect people.”
Any kind of videos on Facebook can be viewed–from live broadcasts to funny viral cat videos, says Simo.
Netflix Planning Ultra Subscription Price Increase
With Netflix planning to spend $8 billion on original content for 700 shows and movies, the streaming giant is looking to expand its current subscription plans. Netflix is reportedly planning a new Ultra tier, which would end up increasing the current $13.99 premium option to $16.99.
Under the new plan, Premium users would still keep Ultra High-Definition streaming and up to 4 users streaming at once; but would lose HDR content to Ultra plans. It’s unclear when this plan will be available to the masses, but Netflix is currently testing it out in several international countries.
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