Apple and Spotify Podcasts Now Playable Through Alexa
Amazon Alexa devices can now play podcasts via Apple and Spotify. The addition of the two podcast platforms to Amazon’s lineup of voice assistant-enabled products marks the extension of the company’s efforts to tie content from potential competitors to its distribution system.
Apple and Spotify on Alexa
Echo smart speakers and other products built with Alexa can pull up programs on Apple Podcasts or Spotify upon request. Users have to ask Alexa specifically to play their chosen podcast “on Apple Podcasts” or “on Spotify” to access the apps unless they set one of the platforms as the default podcast program. Alexa can also link to Apple and Spotify IDs, so that someone could be halfway through a podcast while taking a walk, then start it up on an Echo right where they left off but asking Alexa to resume the show.
Apple Podcasts is by far the most popular podcasting app around, if only because it has been around the longest. Spotify, meanwhile, has been keen to try and catch up. Along with the podcasts it distributes, the streaming platform has been building up its own podcast library and is even testing a way for anyone to easily and quickly make a podcast for its platform. Spotify opened up free audio streaming on Alexa devices just last month, making it clear that Amazon’s voice assistant is a central part of its bigger strategy.
Alexa Spreads Apple’s Content
Apple’s decision to give people access to its podcast platform through Alexa is notable for what it says about how Apple values content distribution. Apple HomePod and Siri are direct competitors with Amazon Echo and Alexa. But, Apple may see the value of boosting distribution as greater than exclusive access. HomePods had been unique in their ability to sync with Apple’s podcast platform. Giving that up suggests Apple doesn’t see the sales of its smart speaker as strong enough to help Apple achieve its content distribution goals. Rather than lose people from its podcast platform, Apple is choosing to open access.
The same dynamic led to Apple partnering with Amazon last year to bring Apple Music to Alexa. While originally limited to the U.S., Apple Music is now playable on Alexa devices in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. The success of the music partnership likely laid the foundation for including podcasts in the deal. Again, it gives Apple more places to entice users onto its audio content platforms. Amazon benefits because all of the people using Apple for their podcast fix won’t need a HomePod to play them at home. The agreement turns a rival platform into another selling point for Alexa devices.