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?

  • Tim

    So LAME that Pandora, in any of its forms, is unavailable to Canadians. When, oh when, will we have a truly global market in music?

  • Pandora relies on a mandatory licensing carve-out in US music copyright law that apparently has no Canadian equivalent. Complain to Ottawa, not DC or the Pandora guys.

    Yelp may have cracked the code for part of what Jeff’s talking about. craiglist eats their lunch today; Yelp builds a roadblock in the future.

    — Another Tim

  • confiteor

    Being outside the us I cannot use pandora. Anyone care to compare it to the last fm app (which strikes me as pretty incredible as well)? What’s in pandora’s box that makes it better?

  • I’m partial to AOL Radio myself.

    (though I think that such audio streams should be part of the iPod core functionality like it is in the iTunes desktop app.)

  • The apps that tap into the iPhone’s photo capture and location together are very compelling. I could see news organizations, and their users, addictively using a local mobile photo journalism app. When the picture uploads, it shows up on a map based on your location. You could even enter your story.

    The Facebook and Twitteriffic apps have something close to this, but I don’t see them making full use of the geo-location.

    It would also be fun to be able to view the photo map on the iPhone and then post comments with peoples’ photos, which then go to them via SMS. They reply and you get a response. Beyond just being fun, I could see this being a great tool for reporting where the audience and newsroom itself converses with people who are on the scene to get a full story — both in text and pictures.

    The app I’m most fascinated by today is Midomi ( You sing into your iPhone and it gives you results of songs that match what you sang. You can then get the artist info and buy the song via mobile iTunes. Wow! Makes me wonder what else could be done with speech, picture and video recognition (although video will have to wait until the iPhone can capture video).

  • So an EveryBlock iPhone app is what you are asking for?