Pandora is finally available on the Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s Playstation 3, thanks to a new web app launched Wednesday that comes complete with a UI optimized for couch potatoes. The company wants to bring the web app to additional TV platforms in the coming months, and CTO Tom Conrad told me Tuesday that Pandora sees this move away from native apps as the way forward in the living room. “We think that the answer can be web standards,” he said.
Pandora’s new TV experience can be accessed on the PS3, the Xbox 360 or any other device with an integrated web browser through the Url TV.Pandora.com. Conrad said that the company is going to target additional smart TVs and other connected devices in the living room in the coming months.
Some of these integrations will include native app wrappers, but the core experience will be based on HTML5 and open web standards. This will allow Pandora to dynamically update the UI and add additional features without forcing users to install app updates.
Conrad contrasted this with the way Pandora has been approaching the living room so far: The company has some 10 million users streaming Pandora’s music program to TVs and connected devices, and it has done dozens of implementations with both TV set manufacturers and chipset makers.
In many of these cases, it required the company to have a team in its Bay Area office cooperate with a team from the manufacturer, which was often based on Korea, to build a highly customized implementation – some of which didn’t exactly look like the company wanted to. “There are iterations of Pandora out there that look a little bit like a Korean karaoke machine,” Conrad joked.
One of the features that Pandora is looking to add in future iterations of the web-based TV experience is second-screen control. “People come and go from the living room all the time,” he said, which is why giving them an easy way to switch their Pandora stream from a mobile device to the TV would make a lot of sense. Conrad acknowledged that Pandora has been spending time with both Netflix and YouTube to tackle this issue. Both companies are involved in a joint standard dubbed DIAL that will simplify the interaction of mobile devices and connected TVs, but Conrad declined to tell me more about his company’s plans for DIAL.
Overall, Conrad painted the renewed effort on the living room as Pandora doubling down on in-home listening. Most desktop listening is happening in the office, he told me, and many people have been listening in their homes through mobile devices with speaker docks or Bluetooth speakers. But the TV is quickly becoming the media center in the home, and it only makes sense for Pandora to embrace this trend. “It’s the device in your home that has the best set of speakers attached to it,” he said.