Spotify reportedly scraps Russian launch plans

The music streamer Spotify was all set to plow into the Russian market, having poached a former Google exec, Alexander Kubaneishvili, to lead the offensive. However, that plan has gone out the window for now.

According to Russian broadcaster RBC, Kubaneishvili announced the pause on Monday, citing Russia’s political and economic situation, as well as pending Russian legislation about regulating the internet. Spotify will not launch in the country “for the foreseeable future,” he said, adding that he does not work for the company anymore.

According to TASS, the firm is also shutting down its Russian office in its infancy. RBC reported that Spotify’s Russian launch had already been delayed because it had failed to agree partnerships with local mobile operators, though TASS indicated some progress had been made with Vimpelcom. I asked Spotify for comment on all this, but the company refused to provide any.

Russia’s ruble is having a very rough time, largely due to the falling oil price and sanctions related to the country’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine and annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

Meanwhile, the country has also been pumping out various new laws designed to clamp down on internet freedom. The most relevant is probably Russia’s local data storage mandate, through which it intends to force web service providers servicing Russians to store their personal data in local data centers. This rule is set to come into force in 2016.

Tesco sells Blinkbox Music to Guvera and kills off ebook platform

As part of its bid to get its financials back on track, U.K. supermarket chain Tesco has been dismantling and selling off its Blinkbox digital media business. First to go was the Blinkbox video streaming service, sold to ISP TalkTalk earlier this month.

Now it’s the turn of the Blinkbox music streaming service, which began life as We7 (jointly founded by music legend Peter Gabriel, no less) before Tesco bought it in 2012. My former colleague Robert Andrews accurately described We7 as “a much valued, indigenous U.K. online music player,” but now it’s owned by Australians – the music streamer Guvera.

According to a statement, the acquisition (terms for which were not disclosed) will give Guvera more technical expertise and help it expand into western Europe. The Spotify competitor is already available in 20 countries and comes preloaded in Lenovo handsets.

Meanwhile, the third plank in the Blinkbox platform – ebooks – looks like a write-off. British book retailer Waterstones had been in talks to buy that business off Tesco but, according to a Monday piece in The Bookseller, those discussions came to naught. Blinkbox Books, co-founded in 2012 by author Andy McNab as Mobcast, will now shut down by the end of February.