Is Spotify Preparing To Push Its App Center To Its iOS Mobile App?

Yesterday, Josh wrote about how Spotify is planning to push out a browser-based version of its music streaming service. Earlier today AllThingsD further confirmed this and added a bit more color: the price is not likely to be reduced at the same time; and it will start rolling out in about a month. We’ve heard a similar report of an October timeframe from a source. And now, in addition to that, we have also seen some evidence of how Spotify could be planning to enhance its mobile app as well, by adding its third-party apps service into the mix.

Currently, Spotify’s desktop app offers a specific section where they show off third-party applications that use the company’s API — for example, a TuneWiki app gives you lyrics to Spotify tracks; LastFM offers personalized recommendations. But there is no link to Spotify third-party apps at the moment in the iOS app.

Adding its app center to the mobile app would make a lot of sense for Spotify as it seeks to make its service more ubiquitous and continues to look for ways of extending time spent on the platform — and making that platform become the centerpiece of music streaming services.

One developer we spoke to noted that mobile is currently where Spotify has many of its most active users (and certainly the more profitable, considering that all mobile users are signed on to Spotify Premium; although in the U.S., the radio service is free on Android and iOS). Creating an app store would be one route to growing that mobile business.

It would also mean closer functionality and parity with the desktop (and possibly web browser) experience. And there is something else: given what a nightmare it is for apps to be discovered in app stores like Apple’s and Google Play, highlighting those apps within the Spotify app would give those third party apps another route for discoverability. That could also make encourage more companies to develop apps for Spotify’s platform. At the moment Spotify lists 47 apps on its web app.

It comes on the heels of reports that Apple itself is looking into more streaming services, something that could hit competitors like Pandora.

The development was first brought to our attention by a developer called tico-man (link to his site here), who has found a set of files embedded in some of Spotify’s existing code (he’s asked us to keep the method quiet if we report this; so we are). His take: It is a “wonderful HTML 5 bundle of evidence that Spotify is ready to ask their developers to create in-app applications for the iPhone.”

The data does not specifically provide details of an actual implementation, “But early documentation inside the code is very convincing material that third-parties will be writing apps for their mobile app,” he notes.

We have seen the code for ourselves, and it includes .json documentation specifying details like UserInstallable, Dependencies, SupportedDeviceClasses, AppName, AppDescription, ApiPermissions — all details that could be used by a developer looking to integrate their apps on to the platform.

It also seems to offer other pointers describing certain functions: “The application object manages the interaction between your application and the Spotify client it runs within,” is the description for the application class, for example.

The files also appear to feature code for a newer, unpublished version of the existing Spotify app — further pointing to something that might be coming ahead. This new version is called 1.0.0 (versus the current version of 0.8.3).

It’s likely that, if this is what it looks like it is, while Spotify’s mobile app center may not offer downloads of the apps themselves — that would violate Apple’s own rules on ‘Inception’ like app stores in iOS apps — Spotify could offer such a feature to help users discover the apps. That would provide links out to those apps by way of Apple’s App Store. This is similar to what Facebook does when it offers third-party apps via its iOS native and web apps, or Openfeint does in its iOS app (and will presumably continue to do when it migrates to Gree).

Update: Spotify has responded to our request for a comment. “Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention but, as per the previous day’s article, we are not offering any comment on these stories.”

Additional reporting by Romain Dillet.