Pandora’s lessons

TechCrunch says that Pandora is the killer app of the iPhone and I agree. It’s the fourth most popular free app (behind obvious choices: Apple’s remote, AIM, and weather). It’s adding a new listener every two seconds. That’s the killer stat that raises the key question:

How could others use apps like this to grow? Simply putting content up — a la the New York Times fine but not revolutionary app — is not enough.

I think winning apps for mobile will be, like Pandora, completely personal; my Pandora is nothing like yours. They will feel live and constantly connected — I can satisfy as much musical restlessness as I can imagine without having to download. I also think the killers will be geographical; newspapers should be thinking hard about that (how about rethinking and retagging all your content — especially your listings and sales and garage sales and open houses – around geography). I think some will be social; a few of the apps already let me find other users of the app near me but I’d rather find my friends, thank you. And I believe some apps will have link to the real world: leave a review about where you are right now (I’ll write more about this annotation later soon). Some winners will be two-way; I’ll be connected with a live world at other edges of the cloud.

So a newspaper app that lets me find out what my neighbors and friends are saying about any location near me — restaurant, school, house for sale, garage sale — would be great. A talk radio app that lets me interact with fellow listeners while listening would be cool. An advertising app that tells me about nearby sales is obvious and often promised but still not delivered.

What apps do you want?