Spotify Rolls Out U.S. Audiobook Service with 300,000 Titles

Spotify is expanding beyond music and podcasts by adding audiobooks. The company is starting out with just over 300,000 titles, available for purchase in the U.S. “This is just the beginning,” says Spotify, promising a geographic expansion. In June, the audio streamer completed its purchase of global audiobooks distributor Findaway, announced last year. The acquisition was designed to make it a major player on entry, competing with Amazon’s Audible, the nation’s biggest audiobook service. Unlike Audible, Spotify is individually pricing audiobook titles and offering them à la carte, not by subscription. Continue reading Spotify Rolls Out U.S. Audiobook Service with 300,000 Titles

‘Minecraft’ Developer Mojang Rejects Blockchain, NFT Tech

Mojang Studios, creator of the wildly popular “Minecraft” game, has taken a public stance banning NFT integrations and blockchain functionality. The Stockholm-based company, owned since 2014 by Microsoft, stated this week that “integrations of NFTs with ‘Minecraft’ are generally not something we will support or allow.” Mojang says it is updating terms of use with further details explaining its position, but a blog post emphases ensuring “Minecraft” players have “access to the same content.” In a blog post, Mojang concludes NFTs “can create models of scarcity and exclusion that conflict with our guidelines.” Continue reading ‘Minecraft’ Developer Mojang Rejects Blockchain, NFT Tech

Strong Q3 Sees Spotify Gain Slim Lead Over Apple Podcasts

Spotify has announced that for the first time its podcast service has overtaken Apple Podcasts in U.S. listenership. Speaking on the company’s Q3 2021 earnings call, the company cited Edison Research and internal tracking to proclaim Spotify the No. 1 podcast platform in the nation, surpassing Apple in monthly listeners. While the company didn’t break-out numbers for its podcast listeners, it said monthly active users for Spotify overall were up 19 percent year-over-year, totaling 381 million for the quarter. Spotify Premium subscriptions also increased 19 percent, to 172 million, up from 165 million in 2020. Continue reading Strong Q3 Sees Spotify Gain Slim Lead Over Apple Podcasts

Spotify Opens Podcast Subscription Service to U.S. Creators

Swedish audio streaming service Spotify is now allowing all U.S.-based podcasters to use Anchor, its podcast creation and distribution platform, to sell subscriptions for exclusive episodes available via a private RSS feed and within the Spotify app. The company is increasing its pricing options and enabling podcasters to download email addresses of paying subscribers who opt in. Spotify will not take a revenue cut until 2023, when it will begin to take 5 percent. It still does not offer a “subscribe” button, meaning listeners have to go to an external website to sign up. Continue reading Spotify Opens Podcast Subscription Service to U.S. Creators

China Mobile Limits Purchasing From Non-Chinese Suppliers

Government-owned wireless company China Mobile has cut its use of non-Chinese suppliers to 5.4 percent from 11 percent in its last 2020 buying round. Hardest hit was Sweden’s Ericsson, whose 5G gear sales were cut to a mere 1.9 percent, compared to 11 percent in the 2020 round. China stated the move was “retaliation” for Sweden’s decision to ban Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp. gear from its 5G networks. The U.S. also banned Huawei, the world’s biggest mobile gear maker, from its networks as have other regions in the world. Continue reading China Mobile Limits Purchasing From Non-Chinese Suppliers

Spotify Increases Its Ad Revenue While User Growth Is ‘Soft’

Spotify Technology saw its advertising revenue more than double during the quarter ending June 30, but its audio streaming service added fewer total users than expected. Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek noted that, “while I’m disappointed that our [user] growth was softer in the last half of Q1 and the first half of Q2, the good news is that we’ve seen that trend line reverse, and all the leading indicators I’m seeing show that we are back on track.” At the end of the quarter, Spotify had 365 million monthly active users, a 22 percent bump year-over-year. Continue reading Spotify Increases Its Ad Revenue While User Growth Is ‘Soft’

Spotify Introduces Live Audio App and Plans Its Creator Fund

Music streaming service Spotify launched its live audio app, Greenroom, for iOS and Android. Built on Locker Room — the app focused on sports content created by Betty Labs and acquired by Spotify in March — the Greenroom app is similar to Clubhouse in that it allows users to host live conversations about music, sports and other topics. Branded with Spotify colors and a new logo, Greenroom features native recordings, which can be distributed as podcasts. Although users can sign in with Spotify credentials, it is not required to use the app. Continue reading Spotify Introduces Live Audio App and Plans Its Creator Fund

U.S. Turns to Open Standards to Launch New 5G Equipment

According to researcher Dell’Oro Group, the U.S. efforts to stop Huawei progress led to 60+ percent of the global wireless gear market to restrict or consider restricting that Chinese company’s products. Now the U.S. government may offer financial support to a domestic cellular equipment industry that has lagged behind for years. In the last five years, said Dell’Oro, Huawei, Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia accounted for 20 percent of the wireless gear market, with no rival even reaching 10 percent of the market. A new competitive landscape and building 5G equipment based on open standards could have a major impact on the industry. Continue reading U.S. Turns to Open Standards to Launch New 5G Equipment

Spotify Intros Its Own Voice Assistant for Popular Music App

Audio streaming service Spotify unveiled a voice assistant with the wake phrase “Hey Spotify” on Android and iOS. Unlike other voice assistants, the app must be open to work; it will play a song, pull up a playlist and tune into a radio station as well as skip and pause. App researcher Jane Manchun Wong reported that the mobile version of the feature has been in the works for at least a year. It is enabled via the “settings” button in the Spotify app where the user turns on “voice interactions.” Spotify is now facing privacy questions. Continue reading Spotify Intros Its Own Voice Assistant for Popular Music App

Huawei Feels Pinch of U.S. Sanctions, Ericsson Contests Ban

Huawei Technologies’ revenue in 2020 Q4 dropped 11.2 percent to 220.1 billion yuan (about $33.6 billion) from a year earlier. For 2020, revenue grew 3.8 percent to a record-breaking 891.4 billion yuan, but the Q4 drop represents how U.S. sanctions inked in September have made it difficult for Huawei to source advanced chips. Huawei revealed it was one of its slowest years ever for revenue growth. Swedish company Ericsson has been the biggest beneficiary, now surpassing Huawei’s cellular equipment sales. However, the company is defending Huawei, citing the importance of free trade. Continue reading Huawei Feels Pinch of U.S. Sanctions, Ericsson Contests Ban

MPAA Reports on Threat of Geolocation Piracy to Streaming

The Motion Picture Association submitted comments to the U.S. Trade Representative stating that VPNs, DNS masks and Tor networks can be a direct threat to legitimate streaming services. MPAA membership has been limited to top Hollywood studios such as Disney and Warner Bros. but that changed last year when Netflix joined. The mission, however, remains the same, which is to deter global piracy. The association goes after copyright infringers, be they site owners or app developers, and is also involved in lobbying. Continue reading MPAA Reports on Threat of Geolocation Piracy to Streaming

Spotify’s Ad Business and User Activity Are Trending Upward

With the COVID-19 pandemic, music streaming and media services provider Spotify Technology experienced deep losses in the quarter ending June 30 including declines in daily active users and listening time as well as payroll taxes that were higher than expected. Now the Stockholm-based company reported that its advertising business is improving just as its listeners’ time spent on the app reached pre-pandemic levels. In fact, by the end of the same quarter, all regions served by Spotify — with the exception of Latin America — returned to those levels. Continue reading Spotify’s Ad Business and User Activity Are Trending Upward

Huawei Inks 40 Contracts to Build and Operate 5G Networks

Huawei Technologies has inked 40 commercial contracts for 5G technology, leading its Q1 revenue to leap 39 percent to 179.7 billion yuan ($26.8 billion). The Chinese company also stated that it has shipped about 70,000 5G base stations, making it a leading supplier of 5G gear. Huawei’s net-profit margin rose a bit to 8 percent. The company also introduced what it calls the world’s first 5G-communication hardware for the auto industry. Its MH5000 module is built on its newly launched Balong 5000 5G chip. Continue reading Huawei Inks 40 Contracts to Build and Operate 5G Networks

Apple Music Now Has More Subscribers Than Spotify in U.S.

Apple Music now has more paid subscriptions in the U.S. than popular music streamer Spotify, as the global competition ramps up between the two rivals. According to those familiar with the matter, Apple Music surpassed 28 million U.S. subscribers by February, compared to Spotify’s 26 million subscribers (the figures only include paid subscriptions, not trial users). When including nonpaying music fans of its ad-supported offering, Spotify still holds the lead in the number of overall users in the U.S. To slow Apple’s progress, Spotify recently introduced new promotions, such as a discounted subscription bundle with Hulu. Continue reading Apple Music Now Has More Subscribers Than Spotify in U.S.

Spotify Commits to Podcast Network with Major Acquisitions

Streaming music giant Spotify has signaled its commitment to building a leading podcast network with strategic acquisitions of podcast publishing platform Anchor and podcast content creator Gimlet Media. The purchases are part of the company’s plan to produce more original programming, grow Spotify’s audience, and eventually become the top global audio platform. Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek predicts that expanding podcast offerings will lead to a future in which non-music audio content will represent 20 percent of listening via Spotify. Continue reading Spotify Commits to Podcast Network with Major Acquisitions