Samsung announced that Spotify would be the default music player for all Samsung devices at the brand’s Unpacked 2018 event last week. The battle lines have been drawn as the two unite to tackle He Who Must Not Be Named (okay, Apple).
This summer, the iPhone maker crushed Samsung in smartphone profits, and Apple Music stole Spotify’s thunder by gaining more subscribers. As they unite to fight the giant, digital audio brands should take note of Samsung’s new Bixby-powered smart speaker, the Galaxy Home.
Digital audio brands like Sonos and Beats have a tough job. Not only do they need to promote their own brands by speaking to the quality of their acoustic hardware, but they also must promote the music streaming platforms that can be controlled via their apps. For example, Harman Kardon promotes 13 music streaming platforms, from juggernaut Spotify to small radio streaming site SHOUTcast — more than any other digital audio brand analyzed in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Consumer Electronics. In contrast, Jaybird, Monster, and Sennheiser each only promote one streaming service. Spotify remains the most popular streaming partner with 13 brand partners, followed by Pandora, French streaming service Deezer, and iHeartRadio.
Voice controlled smart speakers also have a balancing act. They have to promote their own built-in music streaming services, while also showing that they can play well with others. Google Home pairs with Google Play Music, YouTube Music, and five other streaming partners. Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices pair with Amazon Music and four other streaming partners. Apple, however, plays by its own rules. Its HomePod only connects with Apple Music, keeping customers within the Apple ecosystem.
While the smart speakers promote their own branded streaming services, these music services are adopted at much lower rates by other digital audio brands. Only six out of the 20 brands in Gartner L2’s study partner with both Amazon Music and Google Play Music. YouTube partners with five of the analyzed speaker brands, and Apple Music with just four.
Digital audio brands remind us that it takes two to tango. They need to team up with streaming services to promote their compatibility, not just their acoustic excellence. Samsung has picked the belle of the ball, Spotify, to debut its smart speaker. It will be interesting to see who else the Galaxy Home device partners with, and how digital audio brands react.