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Spotify wants to make queuing up your favorite tunes easier wherever you are, no matter your phone’s battery level, storage capacity, or connectivity strength. The company this morning formally announced Spotify Lite, which quietly debuted in beta last year before expanding to Asia in April.
It’s available for a sizable chunk of Spotify’s roughly 217 million monthly active users (MAUs) and 100 million paying MAUs, so long as those users have Android devices running version 4.3 or higher. Lite hits Google Play today in 36 markets across Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa, with more markets and features to follow in the coming months.
“Spotify Lite was built from the ground up based on user feedback from around the world, allowing millions more to enjoy the world’s best music experience — especially in areas with limited bandwidth and phone storage,” said Spotify senior product manager Kalle Persson in a statement. He added that both Spotify Free and Premium listeners can download Lite separately and use it alongside — or independently from — the full-featured Spotify app.
Here’s the full list of supported countries:
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
- South Africa
Spotify Lite weighs in at just 10MB (compared with the 100MB Spotify app proper), and it quickly becomes apparent why. You won’t find nice-to-haves like volume level controls or Spotify’s high-quality 320 Kbps option. Also missing is Spotify Connect, an AirPlay-esque service that lets you beam songs via Wi-Fi to compatible speakers, receivers, dongles, set-top boxes, and home theater systems.
But nips and tucks in the pursuit of compactness aside, Spotify Lite delivers the sort of polished listening experience you’d expect from a publicly traded tech giant. Launching Lite brings up a list of playlists and recently played music, with a navigation bar at the bottom showing the Home, Search, and Favorites buttons. There’s Facebook integration and a custom splash screen, and from the Settings menu, you’re able to specify a monthly data usage limit (in 250MB increments from 250MB to 3GB) that’ll trigger a notification when you come close to reaching it.
Among Spotify Lite’s other spotlight features are a shortcut that clears the app’s cache in a single tap, options to search for and save artists and songs, a sharing menu, and a carousel of recommended playlists.
Spotify Lite joins a veritable family of lightweight apps from the likes of Google and Facebook, including (but not limited to) Facebook Lite, Instagram Lite, Uber Lite, YouTube Lite, and Twitter Lite, and it comes just a few months after the launch of Spotify’s ad-supported free tier in India. Spotify Free, as it’s aptly called, enables smartphone users in the country to listen to any song on demand, as opposed to the limited set of playlists included in other markets.
Spotify is pursuing an aggressive strategy of expansion as it looks to fend off rivals like Apple Music, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and SoundCloud. It recently brought service to 13 markets in the Middle East and North Africa, and in each market localized its offerings with new hubs and bespoke playlist collections. Additionally, the Stockholm, Sweden-based company has priced its Premium tier — which removes advertisements, enables track skipping on mobile, and more — substantially cheaper overseas. For example, Premium starts at Rs 119 ($1.67) in India, compared to $9.99 in the U.S., €9,99 ($11.30) in France, and £9.99 ($13.25) in the U.K.
“Growth in our emerging regions of Latin America and Rest of World continues to outpace growth in our more established markets,” Spotify wrote in its third-quarter shareholder letter.
Concurrently, Spotify has invested heavily in content production and exclusivity, as evidenced most recently by its purchase of podcast networks Gimlet and Anchor for €308 million ($344 million) and acquisition of story-based podcasting studio Parcast for €50 million ($56 million). In its 2018 Q4 shareholder letter, the company said it had earmarked up to $500 million for similar deals throughout this year.
“Based on radio industry data, we believe it is a safe assumption that, over time, more than 20 percent of all Spotify listening will be non-music content,” said Spotify CEO Daniel Ek in early 2019. “We expect the revenue from podcasts to accelerate through 2019.”
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