Internet streaming service Pandora appears to be looking at partnering up with auto makers in an attempt to gain marketshare. Pandora believes many users work around their car stereo systems to stream the services music. An offering from auto makers would reduce clutter and hassles for many users, according to Pandora’s remarks at the SF Music Tech Summit.
Tom Conrad, CTO for Pandora explained that half of it’s customers already use Pandora in their mobile phone or iPod touch devices to listen while in the car. Pandora’s phase one looks to be a tethered system, relying on the phone’s data connection to stream music. Phase two looks to be bringing data services to the cars stereo unit, forgoing the mobile device altogether. Conrad sees Phase 2 coming together in two years.
Pandora’s plan present an interesting jumping off point. Instead of just competing with satellite radio, as comes standard in many cars for a free trial period, Pandora could be one of many connected services. Pandora could help create an app store of sorts for connected cars. I am sure forward-looking companies like TeleNav might have interest in getting in vehicles to provide navigation. Other apps, like those from gas stations, hotels, attractions, audio books, Yelp, GoodRec, Opentable, etc would likely beat down the door to get in. If played correctly, this could be a boon for the auto industry.
When the industry thinks of convergence, the mobile smartphone is often the carrier device. Could it be the smartphone’s reign will last only until everything is connected?
Disclosure: While writing this post, I was listening to Pandora.