36 Comments

Summary:

Net radio provider Pandora is preparing to move more aggressively into the automotive space, with deeper integration with car radios and controls on the horizon. Roughly half of Pandora’s mobile users are using their phones or iPod touches to listen to Pandora while in their cars.

Net radio provider Pandora is preparing to move more aggressively into the automotive space, with deeper integration with car radios and controls on the horizon. During an early afternoon panel at the SF Music Tech Summit, chief technology officer Tom Conrad said the company’s mobile strategy will first hinge on a transitional phase in which its smartphone apps will be controlled from dashboard or steering-wheel interfaces, before dispensing with the smartphones altogether as the service is built into web-connected cars.

Already, Conrad said, half of Pandora’s mobile users are using their phones or iPod touches to enjoy Pandora’s service in their cars, typically by plugging the phone into an existing car stereo’s line-in jack. That’s not too appealing from a safety standpoint, he said, but the company is working with car makers –- including via an existing deal with Ford –- to build in-dash controls that will allow drivers to use Pandora without fumbling around with their phones. This “tethered handset” model will include physically secured mobile devices that are connected to the car’s sound system, possibly via Bluetooth or another technology.

Within a few years, new cars will have Pandora built in and “bundled with either the price of the car or services associated with the car,” he said, ramping up competition with subscription-based satellite radio providers as well as terrestrial radio broadcasters. While he wouldn’t commit to a time frame for the first implementations, and automotive innovation cycles are notoriously long, Conrad hinted that some relevant announcements could be coming out of next month’s CES event in Las Vegas.

Pandora has already succeeded in seamlessly moving from a desktop service to a mobile one, with smartphone adoption driving significant subscriber growth. Having cheated the hangman and stabilized its cost structure this summer, thanks to a licensing agreement forged after an arduous negotiation process, Pandora has the financial runway and the confidence to act on its mobile advantage and expand into the car radio market. After all, isn’t your car another mobile device you rely on?

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. Jeremy Langhans Monday, December 7, 2009

    neat.
    VERY NEAT

    …does this mean i get my Tiesto station in my ride??

  2. pandora wont be around in a year. :-(

  3. John Atkinson Monday, December 7, 2009

    I use Pandora on my iPhone in the car all the time. This seems like a logical step for their strategy. Their value is not in creating “apps”, but in having a platform that can accessed from a variety of “channels” to reach a much wider audience.

    Our service called BuzzVoice has been likened to “Pandora for news & blogs” because it lets users listen to the web’s top blogs on the go(including GigaOM).

    A lot of our users use it in the car, at the gym and on the train – and we’re considering similar channels for reaching consumers on the go.

  4. This is interesting news. It would be a positive move by Pandora. Here in the UK, of course, we can no longer receive Pandora over the web/IP.

  5. Sony, Universal Launch Vevo with EMI: MediaBytes with Shelly Palmer December 8, 2009 | MediaBytes with Shelly Palmer Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    [...] Pandora is making moves to bring its streaming radio service inside cars. While Pandora first hopes to equip users with the ability to control the service through the dashboard of their car, while streaming through smart phones, the company eventually hopes to simply bundle Wi-Fi enabled cars with Pandora. The company is working with a variety of car makers to include Pandora in the dashboard controls, as almost 50% of currently mobile Pandora users are listening in the car via smart phone. [...]

  6. Sony, Universal Launch Vevo with EMI: MediaBytes with Shelly Palmer December 8, 2009 | MediaBytes with Shelly Palmer Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    [...] Pandora is making moves to bring its streaming radio service inside cars. While Pandora first hopes to equip users with the ability to control the service through the dashboard of their car, while streaming through smart phones, the company eventually hopes to simply bundle Wi-Fi enabled cars with Pandora. The company is working with a variety of car makers to include Pandora in the dashboard controls, as almost 50% of current mobile Pandora users are listening in the car via smart phone. [...]

  7. Pandora eyeing cars for integrated music streaming – SlashGear Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    [...] chief technology officer, Tom Conrad.  Speaking at the SF Music Tech Summit, Conrad revealed that around half of Pandora’s current users are believed to be using DIY ways to play their music [...]

  8. Pandora eyeing cars for integrated music streaming | Phone-Review.org Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    [...] chief technology officer, Tom Conrad.  Speaking at the SF Music Tech Summit, Conrad revealed that around half of Pandora’s current users are believed to be using DIY ways to play their music [...]

  9. Your Next Car Radio Might Be Pandora | Twit U Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    [...] of us can access our streaming Internet radio favorites while on the go. That might be changing. As GigaOm reports, Pandora is preparing to aggressively target the automotive space. According to GigaOm, [...]

  10. Your Next Car Radio Might Be Pandora | #! Jack Script Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    [...] of us can access our streaming Internet radio favorites while on the go. That might be changing. As GigaOm reports, Pandora is preparing to aggressively target the automotive space. According to GigaOm, [...]

Comments have been disabled for this post