Spotify withdrawal symptoms on a public holiday

Today is a public holiday and while I’m pleased to have the day off I am missing my new favorite app Spotify. That to the uninitiated is the Swedish music streaming service that launched in Australia a few weeks ago. Spotify has agreements with major music labels and artists, allowing users to listen to music through its desktop or mobile applications. The interface looks like a complete clone of iTunes which makes starting off tasks like creating your first playlist really easy. Spotify offers both free as well as paid access options for the service. Sign up is usually using your Facebook login, so you can share what you listen to and also observe what your Facebook friends (also on Spotify) are listening to. Finally a great mash of the social graph and music listening – something Apple attempted and failed with Ping. This fosters a sense of community, by enabling playlist sharing and music discovery through your friends song choices. The free version comes with ads, but with thousands of Australian youngsters scrambling to trial the service this is a great investment for first movers like CBA and Virgin Money.

In my own office, I can see a lot of colleagues hooked into the service all day an indication of its how addictive it is. Spotifys game plan is that once users create a lot of playlists and become addicted, they will eventually upgrade to one of the premium services. This is a bold model in todays times with youngsters loathe to pay for content be it TV shows, music or movies. It may also depend on how frequent or disruptive the ads become to the listening experience. Currently with only a handful of advertisers at launch, I find the ads on the free version less noticeable than on commercial radio.

Then there’s the inevitable universe of Spotify apps, helping new users discover and experience music in novel ways. Some notable ones are We are Hunted and Fellody, the latter helps find potential dates based on similar musical tastes. While its early days for brands in Australia, there are notable examples of brands like UFC overseas, creating successful Spotify campaigns. As with other emerging social startups like Pinterest and Instagram, the key for brands is to understand the audience motivations on the specific social network and then tailor their promotion to it.

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Google+ First TV Commercial

Here’s a new commerical that Google started airing in the US over the weekend for its social network. The focus again is on the Circles and the ability to share by exclusion into specific circles of connections. While I recognize Circles and Facebooks lists as valuable nice-to-have privacy features I don’t think they are USPs for a social platform. Yes in real-life we do not share information and experiences freely with everyone but that’s because societal norms and inhibitions stop us doing so. In the online world we are more emboldened to upload pictures, announce our thoughts and post our location at a given time.  I don’t agree Social Networking was broken to start with. What it needs is more innovation to keep its connected participants hooked. Google+ should focus on its stand out USPs like Hangouts and the now renamed Huddle rather than approaching the social space with a fix-it attitude. Here is the video below, tell me what you think.

Google+ : Promising but mostly Lonely Planet right now

I was lucky to receive Google+ invites from two sources mid last week and spent all weekend playing with it. It’s been 3 days and I have just 3 connections in my ‘Circles’ on Google+. Neither of these are close friends or family or in my regular real world social circle.

So right now Google+ feels like being early to a party. It seemed cool for 5 minutes to get in before everyone but now you wonder if your friends are going to show up.

As mentioned in the announcement, Google is referring to it as a project to signify that isn’t the final product and there are more useful features to come.

No doubt Google+ is innovative – especially Circle and Hangouts. It’s  great that I can see notifications on the toolbar and switch between other Google products and Google+ so easily. And it’s awesome there’s an Android app for something before an iPhone app.

Here’s a slideshow I put together highlighting the features at launch and my first impressions of the service.

I believe the test will really be to get current Facebook users to see an incentive in Google+. Why should they consider porting all their content on that network to Google+ or see the need to have multiple posts and identities on more than one social channel.

Sheer laziness and privacy concerns will be the main entry barriers to do so. Besides, while Twitter and LinkedIn occupy clear niches that justify investing time in them, I’m not sure what differentiation Google+ promises.

As someone who uses Google products a lot – Adwords, Chrome, Blogger, Gmail, YouTube and owns an Android phone I have a high affinity for anything Google. I also already manage multiple identities on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook so Google+ is not going to be a problem. And I see the value in adding more useful content to my publicly visible Google profile for anyone searching me by name.

But what of the teenagers, housewives, twenty-something girls, older citizens. Will they jump on board and do on Google+ what they do on Facebook. And if they don’t will the few on Google+ stay active. I already find it hard enough to convince friends and family to use Twitter and Foursquare.

I also wonder what is appropriate to share on Google+. Just anything as on Facebook or more high brow like on Twitter and LinkedIn. I’ve decided Google+ falls between Facebook and Twitter/LinkedIn.

Have you test driven Google+ yet. I’d like to hear your thoughts.