Last.fm has had rather a bad day for PR, making two very big, very bad announcements for its consumers. First of all, the company announced in a forum post they’re removing access to their API for third party mobile applications. That means that users of Mobbler on S60, Pocket Scrobbler on Windows Mobile, and FlipSide on BlackBerry devices will soon find themselves without a way of listening on the go.
The ‘official’ applications for the iPhone and Android will remain in action, which seems a little odd. If this is a licensing problem, surely the same rules are in place for whatever platform the content is delivered on? Relatedly, the service will also be stopping non-subscribers from accessing the radio APIs, simply because Last.fm wants more money.
Secondly, the company also announced in a blog post that it will begin charging for its previously free service outside of three countries – the UK, the USA and Germany. Customers anywhere else will be charged a fairly slim €3 per month for the service.
The company admits that the reason for this change is because it’s having trouble selling ads outside of these markets. The UK, USA and Germany all have relatively mature ad markets, where funding the service through advertising alone is possible. Outside of these countries, though, the company is having trouble.
What will remain free for all users is the scrobbling aspect of the site – where it charts your music taste and allows you to compare taste with friends and other users, as well as the social network that sits on top of everything. Although I’ve never pushed very hard to fill out my friends list on Last.fm, it’s grown incrementally over the years and now it’s not too bad.
I’m deeply disappointed that I’ll be losing access to Mobbler, even if it was a little rickety and didn’t work properly on the bus. Let’s hope that services like Slacker make their way over this side of the Atlantic sooner rather than later.