Apple might not be the only tech giant with paid podcast subscriptions in the near future. Wall Street Journal sources claim Spotify will unveil its own paid podcast system sometime "next week." Unlike its rival, Spotify wouldn't charge a fee or take a cut of each membership. Podcasters could set their own prices, the tipsters added.
People using Spotify's iOS app would reportedly be steered to a website to complete the transaction, denying Apple's customary share of App Store transactions. We can't imagine Apple taking kindly to this approach, although Spotify may be counting on antitrust investigations to chill Apple's response.
Spotify hasn't confirmed the plans, but chief content and ad business officer Dawn Ostroff said there was "room for everybody" in the audio space.
Patreon, Pocket Casts, Stitcher and Amazon's Wondery have all offered paid podcasts before. Apple and Spotify could quickly corner the market through sheer clout, however, provided there's enough interest in paying for podcast content in the first place.
While the timing isn't likely intentional, Spotify's reported plans show just how fiercely it's competing with Apple in podcasts. Both see this as their chance to expand their services and dominate the cultural zeitgeist with exclusive shows. For Apple, there's also a symbolic imperative to win — the podcast genre owes its name to the iPod, and the company wouldn't want to lose clout in the format it inspired.