Pandora President Sees Radio-Industry Transformation

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New Orleans - Internet radio has had as significant an impact on the radio industry as the film "The Great Train Robbery" had on the movie industry, Pandora president/CEO Joe Kennedy said during a keynote speech here at CTIA Wireless 2012.

The marriage of Internet radio and wireless is further transforming the radio industry because, for the first time, "internet radio reaches all the places where radio is historically consumed," he added.

In explaining his film analogy, Kennedy pointed out that before "The Great Train Robbery," filmmakers viewed movies simply as traditional stage shows in which actors paraded before a stationary camera, much as they paraded on stage before a live audience. The Great Train Robbery, however, changed all that, introducing the use of moving cameras, multiple camera angles, close-ups and multiple background scenes.

The Great Train Robbery opened up "possibilities that others were blind to," Kennedy said. Likewise, Internet radio has opened up new possibilities with its ability to stream music individually to each listener and, via two-way capability, let individual users shape the programming that they hear, Kennedy said.

The wireless industry takes Internet radio's two core characteristics - one-to-one streams and ability to customize content - "and ups the ante because the phone is with you," Kennedy continued. More than half of Pandora listening is done in the car, he noted.

Pandora launched on cellphones for the first time in 2007, when it appeared on flip phones and many consumers connected the phones to cassette adapters for listening through car stereo systems, Kennedy said. In 2008, Pandora launched its first app for the iPhone, and since then, Pandora has become the second-most-downloaded app in the iTunes Store, Kennedy said.

Today, Pandora has more than 150 million registered users, and more than 100 million of them have listened on a smartphone or tablet, he said.

For Pandora, he said, "this is just the beginning" because almost all of the world's automakers have or plan to roll out car stereo playback of Pandora, via connected smartphones, alongside AM, FM and XM.

The Internet will have the same impact on e-books, turning them from simple representations of a printed page to interactive multimedia sources, he said.

Kennedy concluded his keynote by asking the audience, "What do you see that the rest of us are blind to?"


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