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October 27, 2010

As Spotify Accelerates, Tipster Pumps False Apple Angle

On Tuesday morning, an anonymous tipster e-mailed a number of top tech bloggers about potential talks between Apple and the fast-rising digital music challenger, Spotify. One tech reporter I talked to said the e-mail he received was routed and rerouted to be fully anonymized, and even went so far as to mention Apple's ticker symbol ($AAPL), complete with $ signs often associated with stock tickers.

Whatever the idea the tipster had in his or her head, after a mid-day rumor popped, it was dashed by afternoon, with the company releasing a rare outright denial.

Coincidentally, I assure you, around this same time, I was meeting in person with Shakil Khan, head of special projects of Spotify. We met as friends, and spoke candidly. I did not take notes, and promised not to write about much of what we discussed. I will keep that promise.

But given today's near-news and much of the uncertainty that has been bandied about regarding Spotify's future, when it may officially hit the United States market, and whether it can be a viable company, providing a service people will pay for, I am more confident than ever that they have a significant and disruptive offering, thanks partly to the discussion. I feel assured that making a bet with Spotify for my music future is a good one - which may find some interesting competition with Apple's promised iTunes in the cloud and whatever becomes of Google Music, but that the company is preparing not for a short-term sale, but a long-term evolution of the way we discover and consume music.

Spotify has both free and premium offerings. The premium offerings are attractive. When the time comes that I can pay for an account here in the US, rest assured I will. If forced to choose between Sirius XM or Spotify for my roughly $10 to $12 a month, I would get Spotify those dollars. And for those who choose the free option, advertising will still be pushing revenue into the service.

Apple seems to be reacting to Spotify in an intriguing way, one which I have not seen them react to any other player on the music front before. As someone who has largely switched away from iTunes and to Spotify, I can see why. When I heard of the tipster's rumors, that Apple was looking to buy Spotify, it didn't sound right to me, and it didn't sound like anything the company has told me. So without violating any of my promises to Shak to keep numbers and dates out of the discussion, I am glad the rumor was spiked. False tips can distract from what is a fantastic music experience which can't officially arrive here on these shores too soon.