Since its launch in 2008, Spotify has always required downloading a mobile or desktop app to tap its library of free music. Now, weeks after rumors of a browser-based player on the horizon, Spotify has confirmed that it will go app-free with a browser-based player in 2013.
A Spotify representative told TheNextWeb that the browser app is in its beta stages, and currently being tested to just a limited number of users.
“We can confirm we’ve launched a beta version of a Spotify Web player that we’re testing with a small number of users. Potentially it’s a great additional feature for times you can’t play music through the desktop app, like at work or at a friend’s house. We’ll have more detail on the web player next year.”
The first rumors of Spotify’s transition came from TechCrunch, which reported back in September that Spotify’s browser app would roll out within a couple months. According the same report, it would lack any perceptible new features that would otherwise differentiate the desktop app from the browser version. The interface may resemble its mobile version, but both will be free to use for basic users, and the browser version will be packed with visual and audible advertising.
A screenshot posted on The Verge today shows a mild reworking. The simplistic design and location of navigation buttons including Search, What’s New, and Radio leads us to believe that the browser app’s design is based on responsive design principles. This means that if you open up Spotify’s browser app on your mobile devices, whether on screen that’s 10 inches or 3 inches, the app will fit the screen size perfectly.
A browser app will place Spotify on the same footing as competitors such as Last.fm, iHeartRadio, Rdio, and Grooveshark.
AllThingsD reported yesterday that Spotify was closing today or tomorrow a fifth round of financing that will bring the company’s value to $3 billion. The New York Times reported that Goldman Sachs is involved in the deal, fronting half of the financing while the remainder has been contributed by Fidelity Investments, Coca-Cola, and others. Knowing this, it’s within reason to speculate that Goldman Sachs and Fidelity may be underwriters in Spotify’s bid for an IPO in the near future, which would follow in the footsteps of its competitor Pandora, whuch IPOed last year with a price of $16 per share and a valuation of $2.6 billion. As of this writing, Pandora’s price is $7.36 with a market cap of $1.24 billion – far less than its initial IPO valuation.