I stoppped counting the number of top ten iPhone application lists that Pandora got listed on over the last few weeks because there were so many. Time magazine put Pandora’s iPhone application at the top of their list of best iPhone applications, TechCrunch put it at number two. Other mentions included Silicon Alley Insider and ComputerWorld. Apple itself acknowledged the huge success of Pandora on iPhone, showcasing Pandora as the most downloaded free app in the iPhone app store in 2008. Wow! Congratulations to Pandora – that’s a stat that deserves respect.
iPhone has revolutionized the way that people think about their mobile devices. An article in the New York Times aptly states that it’s not about how cool your mobile device itself is anymore, it’s what’s loaded on it that matters. What can your phone do? Thanks to Pandora, streaming music from iPhone is hip.
Many of the lists that loved Pandora talk about it as though it’s purely an iPhone application – despite the fact that Pandora was a full fledged internet radio station and existed for years before iPhone. Here’s what TIME had to say about it: “The all-time best free app for music lovers. You pick a song, album or artist and Pandora immediately builds a whole “radio station” around it, endlessly streaming complete tunes from top artists. You can even tweak your station by giving songs a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.”
In a lot of ways, Pandora’s success as an iPhone app was serendipitous – apparently even Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora, was startled by the success. Take a great station that allows listeners lots of choice and emphasizes music discovery – add in Apple promoting its new device as a tool for much more than texting and talking, and Pandora quickly becomes the most popular download. In early December, Pandora added it’s 2 millionth new iPhone user.
Pandora’s success on iPhone holds promise for all of Internet radio. I’ve been saying for years that Internet radio doesn’t start to really grow its audience until it gets unplugged and into people’s pockets. 2008 and Pandora are the first really clear view of the popularity Internet radio will have as wireless Internet access and devices become more widespread.