Apple VS Spotify – May 2019

Since our March report the battle for podcasting power has stepped up a notch – both Apple Podcasts and Spotify have drawn their best weapons in a bid for audio dominance.  

In May Bloomberg wrote that Spotify would be focusing the company’s efforts into overhauling the App, putting podcasts on a level playing with music. Furthermore, in the last 24 hours, the company announced that it would be testing out playlist features over the course of this summer, helping users to discover new podcast shows. Business Standard said they would be testing the water with just 5% of users in a small percentage of markets (the UK, US, and Canada to name a few) the company wants to combat the issue, quickly.

On the other side is Apple, who two days ago made the game-changing announcement that they would be killing iTunes; replacing the once-revolutionary streaming service with individual Apps for music, podcasts and TV. With this change Apple Podcasts will attempt to overcome the issue of discoverability, introducing machine-driven discoverability devices and machine learning technology to index the spoken words, allowing listeners to find specific shows and even episodes based on their interests.

With this in mind, we wanted to look at how the listeners are reacting. Over the course of two months, Spotify has gained dominance in five new markets, Honduras, Slovakia, Hungary, Finland and Indonesia. Demonstrating a continued move into Spanish speaking markets and new control in central Eastern Europe. Big progress in a small window.  

As the battle continues, it raises questions of what turn it will take next? Nick Quah in his latest issue of Hot Pod made the point that discoverability is a key sticking point for listeners, number 2 after analytics and that these changes will have a massive impact for them. Bloomberg also stated that Spotify has invested $400 million since the beginning of the year in podcast companies and creating original content – will more original content be the way to get listeners to pledge allegiance to a platform?

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