Pandora is a music discovery service Web site created by the Music Genome Project that's currently available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and most recently the Palm Pre. By analyzing over 400 musical attributes, Pandora is able to identify traits in music and suggest new songs that are similar to what you requested. Just type in an artist or song you like and Pandora will create a personalized radio station based on that single selection.
Pandora also unveiled other significant changes this week. Starting this month, listening time will be capped at 40 hours each month, which is expected to affect about 10 percent of customers. But if you happen to reach the limit, a one time fee of 99 cents will grant you unlimited access for the remainder of the month. Considering some services charge the same amount for a single song download, the price is very competitive for unlimited use.
Customers will also have the option of signing up for Pandora One, which comes with a $36 yearly subscription fee. This premium service will remove ads, provide a higher streaming-audio quality, and include a skin-capable desktop client. There is no word on how the new service will affect mobile users, but I expect we might see something along the lines of higher-quality audio for 3G and W-iFi connections.
Pandora is a welcome addition to Android, but it will find several worthy competitors already on the platform when it finally launches. Last.fm and Imeem both have mobile clients that have a large user base, so it will be interesting to see how the community reacts.
The increased competition should encourage all three services to innovate in the mobile space. Imeen's new location-based playlists that play the most requested songs in your local area are a prime example. Even though it is arriving later, Pandora will have its chance to emerge as the premier music app on the young Android platform.
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