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RAIN 1/7: Ford, Pandora make in-car streaming radio news at CES

Posted on: 01/07/2010

FORD BRINGING NET RADIO TO UPDATED SYNC SYSTEM, PANDORA SUPPORT ADDED TO 2 DASHBOARD RADIOS

As discussed yesterday (RAIN coverage here), in-car Internet connectivity (and the streaming radio possibilities such a connection would allow) are big topics at this year’s CES in Las Vegas. The biggest development comes from Ford, which unveiled its updated Sync system called My Ford Touch. The music, navigation and web browsing system includes touch screens, thumb-wheel controls, connects to the Internet and accesses smartphone applications with voice commands via Bluetooth. The first apps to be supported, as CNET reports (here), are Pandora, Stitcher, and Twitter.

My Ford Touch will be available this year in the Lincoln MKX, Ford Edge and Ford Focus models, Ford said. They expect to incorporate the system in 80% of its models by 2015.

Elsewhere, Pioneer and Alpine both revealed Pandora-friendly dashboard radios. Like Ford’s updated Sync system, these devices — the Pioneer AVIC-X920BT (pictured left) and Alpine iDA-X305S — don’t actually stream Pandora, but rather tap in to an iPhone’s cellular connection (like any other car radio with an input jack). The difference is these devices (like Ford) include on-screen controls for the Pandora stream, making it easier and safer to listen to Internet radio while driving. Pioneer’s device will arrive in March for $1,200 (more from Engadget here), while Alpine’s device will cost somewhere around $350 (as CNET estimates here).

The Wall Street Journal notes (here) that Pandora’s deal with Pioneer “represents a direct challenge to broadcasters of satellite and traditional radio, who have long dreaded the arrival of Internet radio in cars,” though in the end it’s only “a half-way step to that future.” The same could perhaps be said of Alpine’s developments, though Ford seems closest to bringing Internet radio straight to a car dashboard.

JELLI RAISES $2M FOR NATIONAL EXPANSION

Crowd-sourced radio service Jelli has raised $2 million from angel investors in preparation for nationwide syndication early this year. Jelli already delivers its radio service — pulling from online user voting — to broadcaster Live 105 in San Francisco. Among the company’s investors are Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital, Alfred Lin of TriplePoint Capital and Peter Sperling of Apollo Group. VentureBeat has more on the story here.

NET RADIO AD INSERTION PATENT SUIT SETTLED

A patent suit over streaming radio ad insertion technology targeted at major broadcasters has been resolved. In April last year, patent licensing company Aldav LLC sued Clear Channel, Cumulus, Citadel, CBS Radio, Entercom, Saga, Cox Radio, Univision and other broadcasters for, according to Aldav, infringing on their patent for ad delivery (RAIN coverage here).

Aldav has reportedly agreed to drop the suit against all parties “without any money changing hands,” as Audio4Cast’s Jennifer Lane writes. “This is good news not just for these key broadcasters but also for Ando Media,” who would was also “indirectly on the hook” for using such ad placement technology if such a suit moved forward. Lane has more details at her Audio4Cast blog here.



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