Saturday, July 9, 2011

Rumors Swirl Around Imminent Facebook Music Service

Rumors are swirling around a new Facebook music service. The latest reports speculate that the social networking giant will hook up with Spotify.

The rumors started after technology blogger Jeff Rose published a snippet of code that appears to be a call to action to download an app dubbed "Facebook Vibes."

Rumors of Facebook considering a music service date back to October 2008. That's when the New York Post reported that Facebook was going to respond to MySpace's effort to differentiate itself among youthful social networkers with a music service.

But Forbes reported in May that Facebook is in talks with Spotify. According to Forbes, the partnership was already inked and the service is undergoing testing. When launched, users would reportedly see a Spotify icon on the left side of the newsfeed, where icons for photos and events are positioned.

Who is Spotify?

The Spotify service offers free and legal access to a significant music library. Spotify is an advertising-supported streaming music service that promises listeners are exposed to less advertising than they find on commercial radio. Spotify also has a subscription service.

The United Kingdom-based service is not yet available in the U.S., but the company has an e-mail sign up list for customers that are interested. Spotify could make its U.S. debut on Facebook, if the rumors hold true.

Apple's App Store offers a Spotify app. The app lets users listen to playlists even when they don't have a network Relevant Products/Services connection, like on a plan or underground. It's not clear if the Facebook app would work the same way.

Competing with Google

"Originally I thought that Google+ was going to break on the beach of Facebook, but Google did something smart with regard to Google+. By making it exclusive they created a bit of a breeding frenzy around Google+," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at The Enderle Group. "A lot of the influencers are gravitating over to Google+ and they might actually have a wave, in which case Facebook could be facing a relatively rapid migration to the product."

As Enderle sees it, Facebook may be in somewhat of a panic mode trying to bring on board other services as quickly as possible. He said the video Relevant Products/Services chat service is "so basic" that it has the look and feel of being rushed. Enderle suggested the music service is another feature Facebook might be rushing to market to try to keep people using the social network.

"At the end of the day, Facebook is about sharing and what is often shared -- and this goes back to when we made mix tapes -- is music. Music is a natural adjunct to a social media site, if you can figure out a way to deliver it the way people want it and do it legally," Enderle said. "It's very likely that Facebook is going to end up with music, and I think there are a lot of things pushing Facebook in this direction."

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