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Spotify and Voddler: Hot Swedish companies prepared to take streaming to new heights

Music and video streaming services in themselves are nothing new (as YouTube and others can attest to), but what is new is that finally some companies seem to be getting the big content providers on board. Spotify is gathering buzz with its music streaming service, and Voddler is about to launch a similar service for movies and TV series. And guess what? Both can be used for free.
Things Spotify and Voddler have in common:

  • Both are streaming services with custom streaming platforms that offer a mix of server-based streaming and peer-to-peer technology, making it easier for them to scale.
  • Both are flat-rate subscription services, with ad-supported free options.
  • Both seem to be tempting people away from illegal file downloads.
  • Both are accessed through a client application instead of a web page.
  • Both have come out of Sweden. (Just like Pingdom. 🙂 )
  • None of them are available in the United States yet.

Quick facts about Spotify

Spotify was founded in 2006 and launched its service in late 2008. It gives its users full access to stream music from a library of about 3.8 million songs. Even though the service is still in beta it is gaining popularity fast and already has two million users in the UK alone.
As of now Spotify is available in the UK, Sweden, Germany, France, Spain, Norway and Finland, but will gradually be introduced to other countries as well. It’s set to launch in the US sometime early in 2010.
The company has about 60 employees, and VC money has been pouring in. The latest round was $50 million and put the company at a valuation of $250 million. Another interesting aspect is that Spotify has had several big record labels as stock owners since last year, presumably in part as an incentive to get them to sign on.
Spotify is available on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. There’s also a Spotify app for the iPhone on its way which has apparently just been approved by Apple. Spotify will also have an Android app.

Although so far Spotify has been a European affair, US tech people in the know have already started to hype the service, which bodes well for the up-coming US launch.

Quick facts about Voddler

If Spotify is currently taking its first baby steps, Voddler is almost at the embryo stage. The service has been in limited beta since July 1 this year and is being tested by a mere 1,500 people. It won’t be launched officially until sometime this fall, and then only in the Nordic countries for starters. The agenda is to go global, though.
Voddler aims to do for movies and TV series what Spotify is doing for music. In spite of not being widely available it’s already getting a significant amount of buzz here in Scandinavia. People are quickly getting excited about its potential.
Although it is launching its service later than Spotify, Voddler as a company is actually older. It was founded in 2005 and has around 30 employees today.
In addition to the client application, the Voddler Player, which will be available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, Voddler will also be providing a Linux-based box with a pre-installed client that you can easily connect to your TV to get that home cinema feel.
Here below is a screenshot of the latest design of the landing page, designed to work best on widescreen televisions.

Movies are of course a lot more bandwidth-intensive than music. How well Voddler works for you will depend on your Internet connection. To get 1080p HD quality you should have an 8 Mbit/s connection, for 720p HD quality you should have a 5 Mbit/s connection, and for DVD quality you should have a 2.5 Mbit/s connection. Contrast this with Spotify which only has to deal with music streaming and therefore works just fine with a mere 256 kbit/s connection.

The road to success is wide open

If we take a step back and look at this, it remains to be seen if Voddler will be able to reach the same kind of popularity and buzz that Spotify has been able to do in such a short time, and if it will be able to attract content providers to the same extent. It even remains to be seen if Spotify will be able to sustain its business in the long run.
But, Spotify really does look set for success. In Sweden it was recently reported that at least one record label is already making more money from Spotify than from Apple’s iTunes, which is pretty impressive considering the service is just getting started. Spotify is probably a bit extra popular in Sweden though. Home team pride, you know.
What is impossible to deny is that these sites both address something users have been wanting, and asking for, for a long time: convenient and affordable (even free) access to music and movies, while still being able to pay the content providers. It’s a win-win situation, and if you ask us, it was inevitable.

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