According to a report by Parmy Olson on Forbes.com, Facebook has signed a deal with streaming music provider, Spotify, in a move that could see music added to the giant social network in as little as two weeks.
Unfortunately for Canadians and Americans, Spotify has yet to sign the necessary agreements with North American record labels to bring its very popular product to Facebookers in Canada and the U.S.
Olson makes the connection between Facebook and Spotify clear for those who aren’t familiar with the two organizations: Not only is Mark Zuckerberg a big fan of Spotify, Facebook’s first president and early Napster employee, Sean Parker, sits on Spotify’s board, while the two companies also share investors.
But the coming-together of these entities is not limited to dollars and directors. While Spotify started out in 2006 as a way to listen to music online, it has grown considerably since then, most recently in 2010 when it added a social networking feature powered by – you guessed it – Facebook.
Once integrated into Facebook officially, according to Olson, a Spotify icon of some description will appear to the left of users’ Newsfeed.
The intent is move Facebook’s media strategy forward (they already have a movie agreement with Warner Bros.) while giving Spotify access to a massive new source of potential subscribers. Spotify’s free service is ad-supported, but they also have a paid service which is ad-free and offers a higher bitrate for the music streams.
The real question however is: Will this new socially-powered angle prove tantalizing enough to Facebook users to make a real difference for either company? After all, this is hardly an original concept. Microsoft tried to make music social with their nearly-defunct Zune product – even going so far as to let users of their Zune media players “find” other Zune-ers who were located within range of the device’s Wi-Fi connection. Apple has kicked this can too with their poorly received Ping product which is now a feature built-in to every copy of iTunes and several of their devices including the iPhone. Yet even with Apple’s significant market share, Ping is hardly a success story.
But if social music on Facebook is going to be a success, it will happen in Canada. Why? Turns out our very own country has the world’s most extreme users of Facebook. I can’t say I’m surprised. Sync readers seem to have an insatiable appetite for all things Facebook-related. So that’s all the more reason why Spotify has to hurry up and sort out whatever remaining legal hurdles it faces with record labels and add Canada to its list of supported countries. Heck, given how rabid Canadians are when it comes to Facebook, it might make sense to get the Canadian deals ironed out first, before the U.S. – we could be the perfect test-bed for new features.
Alright readers – your turn: Are you excited by the idea of being able to share your musical tastes with your FB friends via an integrated platform like Spotify?
It looks like someone mashed up a Palm Pre and a Samsung Cleo. At least that’s the first impression you get when looking at one of Microsoft’s first branded entries into the mobile phone space, the KIN One. Together with its sibling the KIN Two, it represents a clear expression of what Microsoft thinks the future of mobile is all about, namely social networking.
A multi-touch screen with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, the KIN One has a distinctly feminine feel, mimicking a make-up compact in size and shape in its closed position, while the KIN Two sports a more conventional rectangular shape. Microsoft’s KIN website claims that the KIN One will appeal to those who like to one-hand-text while and the KIN Two is better for people who prefer to double-hand it when they type. Size and shape aren’t the only differences. The KIN One has 4GB of storage, a mono speaker and can shoot SD video, while the Two has 8GB of memory, stereo speakers and can capture HD video. Both phones contain Microsoft’s Zune software for media playback.
But size and shape aside, the real story here is what happens when you turn the KIN on.
Microsoft has created an experience they refer to as “KIN Loop”. It’s what you see on the phone’s home screen and it’s meant to be a collage of everything that is going on in your social network, right now. You can bring in feeds from top social apps such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Microsoft’s own services and then identify the people in your network who matter most to you. These updates are always front and centre. Microsoft feels that the KIN’s target market of twenty-somethings will prefer this experience over one that emphasizes menus and icons. This strikes me as a love-it or hate-it gamble.
If KIN Loop is your way of staying on top of your rapidly evolving social scene, KIN Spot is the way you let your network know what’s going on with you. Using the touchscreen, you can drag and drop any item of interest to a small green circle near the bottom of the screen and then craft your message/tweet/status update before blasting it out to everyone, or just a select audience.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of the KIN though, is one that doesn’t live inside the phone at all, but rather in the cloud. Dubbed “KIN Studio”, Microsoft has created an online backup system for the KIN that not only preserves nearly every item on the KIN be it photo, video, contact, or call history but lets you “re-live” all of these in a kind of timeline-type display. Microsoft claims the online storage will be ample – more than enough to keep your memories alive for extended periods. There is no mention of what kind of data plan will be required if you are a heavy user of the KIN Two’s 8 megapixel camera or it’s built-in HD camcorder.
Rounding out the KIN feature list is a mobile browser that appears to use the same pan/zoom model as both the Pre and the iPhone, an FM Radio and Search powered by Bing.
Opinion is pouring in already, with the editors at Gizmodo – who have already released videos of the KIN in action – declaring it to be sluggish, but not to the point of being unusable.
The KINs will debut in May in the U.S. on the Verizon network and later in Europe with Vodafone. No word yet on a Canadian launch date or which mobility provider will offer it.