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RAIN 4/25: Big opportunities (and challenges) for Net radio in car dashboards, says RAIN Summit panel

Posted on: 04/25/2011

PANELISTS: IN-CAR NET RADIO FACES SAFETY, TECHNICAL CHALLENGES, BUT SOLUTIONS COMING

In-car Internet radio usage appears to be gaining momentum, with a new knowDigital study finding that listening to web radio in cars is not some “futuristic phenomenon,” it’s here now (RAIN coverage here). At RAIN Summit West 2011, representatives from three companies trailblazing their way into car dashboards — Pandora, Stitcher and Livio Radio — discussed their challenges and goals.

The panel began with moderator Patrick Reynolds of Triton Digital and Jake Sigal of Livio Radio outlining the different ways consumers currently listen to Internet radio in their cars: OEM-integration (from Ford, GM and others), FM transmitters, auxiliary-in cables, or a Bluetooth-enabled receiver.

George Lynch from Pandora (“a little start-up you may have heard of,” as Reynolds introduced him), pointed out that these methods “all based on the smartphone” right now. And that leads to safety and technical challenges.

Like cellular bandwidth constraints, for example. Lynch said Pandora has not seen bandwidth issues yet and “you’d be surprised at how little bandwidth it takes to stream Pandora.” But Sigal said listening for him in Detroit is “an undesirable experience” right now. Both agreed that in the future this will be a “non-issue” as cellular providers improve their infrastructure to meet growing demand.

Then there are safety issues. Sigal pointed out that most states don’t smile on people messing around with smartphones while driving. Stitcher’s Noah Shanok said the goal is to have Net radio in the car be “as easy to use as AM/FM radio,” but to still include the personalization features that sets Net radio services above AM/FM.

“But those issues are getting resolved,” said Sigal, as more and more car-makers develop better dashboard interfaces.

GIGAOM ASKS LAST.FM’S NEW HEAD OF PRODUCT WHERE THE SERVICE IS HEADED

Matthew Hawn, Last.fm’s new head of product, outlines where the service may be headed in a new GigaOM article. Hawn is looking to make the service easier to use and expand the range of music to reach new users, while improving social features.

“Ultimately, Hawn suggests, he’s torn between whether Last.fm is a music service that does data or a data service that does music,” GigaOM writes. Should Last.fm be a source for music, like Rdio, Pandora and MOG? Or “the connective tissue that brings them together”? Read the full article here.

NON-COMM KQED/S.F. TO GIVE DONORS AN ONLINE BREAK FROM PLEDGE-DRIVE

San Francisco public radio station KQED is putting its web/mobile stream to a unique use: next month, the station will use it to offer listeners who’ve already pledged money a “pledge break-free” feed.

Listeners quickly tire of the incessant breaks in the programming during the pledge drive. So as a reward/incentive for listeners who donate $45 or more, a second team of on-air talent will host the same content online, but without the pledge breaks.

TRITON UNIFIES UNITS AS “TRITON DIGITALBRANDS

Triton Digital COO Mike Agovino announced last week that his company will consolidate the brands its acquired over the past few years under the “Triton Digital” banner.

“The former ‘Ando Media Group’ which was comprised of Streamtheworld, Ando Media and Spacial Audio is now Triton Digital Streaming, Agovino explained. The unit will continue under President Yves Eric Laliberte and CTO Jean Francois Gadoury.

Likewise, Triton Loyalty will now be Triton Digital Applications and Services. Chris Bell is president, and Mike Becker COO. The unit includes “Stickyfish,” “Fan Club” and “Tribal Direct” Loyalty products, the “Flex” content management system, the “MXM” mobile platform and “Music News” content.



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