Unboxed

July 26, 2010
Boasting about 60 million users, the Pandora app is one of The App Store's most popular. If you've never used the service, Pandora is an online radio station that allows users to create custom radio channels. For example, if you create a 'Prince' station the system will play some Prince songs along with artists who sound like Prince in some way -- like Michael Jackson, or Queen. Users then rate the songs, effectively telling the system what they prefer to hear. The service changed radio, and how we find new music. But changing radio online wasn't enough for Pandora to survive; the company nearly went out of business. Mobile changed all that, turning a brilliant but dying website into a popular app. Pandora Founder Tim Westergren says, "it is impossible to overstate" the impact of mobile devices on the company, which doubled its growth after the app release. The service was well suited for appdom - 'you could be at the gym on a treadmill listening to your personalized radio station," explains Westergren in an interview with Charlie Rose. The company seems to benefit every entity it is associated with. Pandora is an advertiser's dream: it has a huge reach and its users are constantly profiling themselves. Musicians and record labels love it because it gives them more exposure and generates revenue. Along with paying performance fees, Pandora is also the top seller of music in iTunes and on Amazon. Mobile devices have given Pandora a future, and a very bright one at that. The new iPhone OS allows users to multitask apps so they can play Pandora in the background while they use other apps. The company just partnered with Facebook to allow users to share their music preferences and channels on their profiles, directly from the app/web. It is also working with Ford to create a Bluetooth-controlled version of the app that can be used while driving. Pandora, like Newsy, is an excellent case study in how mobile devices can revolutionize an industry and the day-to-day lives of its users. What's your favorite Pandora channel?