Auto Drive: Pandora Plans More Internet Radio
Traditional radio and satellite broadcasters beware: Internet audio service Pandora has its sights set firmly on automobiles, according to founder Tim Westergren, who says: "Our goal is to be in every new car that rolls off the manufacturing line."
Westergren voiced his ambition not long after media research surveys found that U.S. consumers are receptive to bringing Internet radio into their cars.
In his Los Angeles Times interview, Westergren noted: "We're actively developing products with car manufacturers and after-market stereo companies, such as Pioneer and others," hinting coyly that he's already "working with Ford, Mercedes and other companies that we can't talk about now."
Westergren acknowledged that safety issues are a concern, but can be overcome: "The future is in being able to control Pandora right from your steering wheel."
In January, Pioneer announced that it has begun manufacturing a multipurpose navigation and media device priced at $1,200, which will allow consumers who own iPhones to stream Pandora content to their car stereos via the mobile devices -- after they download a new app that lets the devices link up.
The Pandora audio play is also identified in a text display on the Pioneer device's screen, which allows the driver to interact with various media options and view a GPS display of their route, among other capabilities.
In March, Pandora made one of its most significant new hires: George Lynch, previously vice president of automotive relationships for Sirius-XM. Lynch began working for XM Satellite Radio in 1999 as director of original equipment manufacturer accounts and was promoted to XM's vice president of automotive accounts in 2004. During his tenure at XM and Sirius-XM, formed by a merger in 2008, Lynch managed partnerships with Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Acura, and Hyundai.
At the time of Lynch's hire, Jessica Steel, Pandora senior vice president, made the company's ambitions in the auto arena clear. "Delivering Pandora's personalized Internet radio to our 48 million listeners in their vehicles is a key focus of our company this year."