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08 Jan 2010

The End of Radio as We Know it?

Listed under: Blog

Radio as we know it is about to change. With internet radio the limitations of PC only broadcasting seem close to the end.

WSJ reports Pandora has struck a deal with Pioneer that promises to make it easier for drivers to listen to its personalized radio service in cars—bringing Internet radio one step closer to snagging a built-in spot on dashboards. The development represents a direct challenge to broadcasters of satellite and traditional radio, who have long dreaded the arrival of Internet radio in cars.

Starting in March, Pioneer will sell a navigation and entertainment device that allows Pandora users who stream the service on their Apple iPhones to easily access Pandora in their cars. The $1,200 navigation system, announced at the Consumer Electronics show in Vegas, will detect iPhones and iPod touches that have Pandora installed, and put the consumer’s Pandora settings on the navigation screen. That will allow drivers to hear their favorite Pandora radio channels.

At Pandora, executives hope the deal will help expand the way its fans think of the service. “Maybe a year ago people would have said Pandora is a computer thing,” said co-founder Tim Westergren. Now, “they’re beginning to realize that Internet radio is an anytime, anywhere thing.”

Internet radio in cars could hit satellite radio hard too. Sirius XM Radio requires consumers to pay $12.95 a month for its service, which offers much of the variety consumers can get on the Internet free.

But many in the radio business view in-car Internet services as the real threat to AM and FM radio, because they will allow drivers access to an unlimited number of streamed radio stations. Pandora’s deal with Pioneer is a half-way step to that future.

Using Pioneer’s navigation system with Pandora will require a separate application Pandora users will have to download onto their iPhones.

Paul Porter

Industry Ears