Spotify is a Lesson in Product Trade-offs

If Spotify didn’t offer such a good service, I can’t imagine wanting to use their app. From a user experience perspective, I want every touchpoint that the user interacts with to be the best. From a product management point of view, I’ve got to admit it makes sense to make the app just good enough.

I imagine a lot of my dissatisfaction with the app comes down to running it on an old iPhone 4S. When I’m waiting for the app to start up, I contemplate making a sandwich or something. When I tap on an album and wait for it to load, I get the urge to kill time by checking my email, then remember that my phone is busy loading a list of songs and a piece of artwork, so I’m stuck waiting. When I try scrolling for the fifth time in a row because the app has become unresponsive, I curse the slowness of my phone.

I would also totally believe that some things are genuinely hard to program. Spotify forgets what I was playing within a few minutes of me pausing a song. When I use Spotify in my car, it seems to fight with Apple’s Music app for control. I would believe that interacting with iOS’s built-in music-playing functionality is hard.

But all that said, why does it have to connect to whatever it’s trying to connect to before I can start using it? Why can’t they optimize loading time?

There are also user interface problems. Why is it that when you shuffle a playlist, shuffle stays on when you play an album? Why is it so hard to find the control to turn off shuffling? Why can’t I just search within the albums I’ve saved instead of everything in Spotify’s collection? Why does the iPad app lack the functionality of the iPhone and desktop app? Or, at least, seem to lack the functionality?

Nonetheless, I’m a Spotify customer. Despite all these problems, the service is exactly what I want, so I put up with their apps. Food for thought when it comes to making choices about products.