Does Facebook's Spotify Partnership Deal Threaten Pandora?
Pandora (P) is facing a new threat on the horizon from Facebook and Spotify. Forbes has reported that Facebook will soon launch a new music service with Spotify, which offers music streaming service and also allows users to sync their music and make purchases. Pandora is the leader in Internet radio and offers listeners personalized services based on preset choices and feedback. Pandora also has apps available on Apple's (AAPL) iPhone, Research in Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry and smartphones operating on Google's (GOOG) Android OS.
We currently have a price estimate of $10 for Pandora's stock, roughly 55% of the current market price.
Not Bumping Heads Yet
The new service through Facebook will be offered only to users in countries where Spotify already operates -- primarily in Northern Europe, and conspicuously, not in the U.S. yet. In contrast, due to licensing restrictions, Pandora's operations are confined to United States. However, although the two won't be competing for users' listening hours just yet, they could soon be pitted against each other: Both Pandora and Spotify are busy negotiating with music labels to expand their rights to new countries.
Personalized Versus Social Preferences
Pandora's Music Genome Project allows users to personalize their playlists based on preset choices and feedback. On the other hand, Facebook will allow Spotify to become more social. Although the scope of the partnership isn't clear yet, the first reports coming out indicate that it will allow friends to listen to music simultaneously, comment on songs and post about their musical tastes through Facebook.
Most people's tastes in music are highly personal, and they don't typically rely on their friends to make their playlists. Therefore, although Facebook may help Spotify reach millions of new users, this partnership could potentially serve more as a complement to Pandora rather than a substitute for its service -- implying that it would not impact Pandora's subscriber growth, even after the two services compete in the same markets. Instead, the Spotify-Facebook partnership could impact Pandora by competing for users' listening hours. Some users, for instance, might choose to listen to Spotify while browsing the Internet at home, but use their personalized Pandora list for when they're on the go.
Downside for Pandora
In a scenario under which Spotify could launch its service in the United States by 2014 and compete successfully with Pandora, this could lead to a decline in monthly online (at home or work) listener hours for Pandora, and also lead to lower monthly mobile listener hours. If we adjusted both of these by 1 percentage point lower after 2014 for our forecasts, this would imply an almost 10% downside to Pandora's value.
You can drag the trend lines in the modifiable charts above to see the impact of these trends on Pandora's stock value.
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