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Pandora CTO: 'The iPhone changed our lives'

At the Mobilize conference in San Francisco, Pandora's Chief Technology Officer credits the iPhone with Pandora's brand-name success.

Pandora logo

The majority of Pandora's business comes through mobile devices; 70 percent, to be exact.

Yet like many Web services that began with only the desktop on the mind, the early Pandora team had no inkling that mobile would become the runaway success it is.

"Like most rock bands, Pandora was sort of like a 10-year success in the making," Tom Conrad, CTO and EVP of Pandora, told the audience at GigaOm's Mobilize conference in San Francisco.

Despite holding on to the ambition to become "the future of radio," in Conrad's words, Pandora's initial goals were quite modest: tuning 1 million listeners in to the fruits of the Music Genome Project, which forms Pandora's algorithmic backbone for discovering new artists in streaming playlists of Pandora's amalgamation.

Pandora surprised itself, as it turns out. On the eve of the iPhone App Store launch, Pandora had grown to 13 million listeners. When the App Store opened, the number or registered users skyrocketed overnight, and today the streaming service enjoys more than 100 million registered users, all acquired without spending a single cent on marketing, Conrad says.

All this speaks to the power of viral marketing, and to the iPhone's game-changing ability to launch developers into the spotlight.

Fun fact: Before latching on to Greek mythology, Pandora used to be known as Savage Beast. Rawr!