RAIN 2/27: Major Android maker outs new music-focused devices; 850k Android devices activated daily

Michael Schmitt
February 27, 2012 - 12:20pm

HTC's new line-up of music-focused devicesYesterday at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, major Android device maker HTC unveiled a new line of phones that integrate web radio services and a "completely new car experience." Meanwhile, Google revealed figures on the growth of the Android platform.

The new devices -- One X, One S and One Z -- run on a version of Android customized by HTC called Sense 4. That platform includes Beats Audio and wireless iTunes music syncing over Wi-Fi. HTC announced Pandora, Spotify and other third-party streaming services would be able to use Beats Audio on the new devices.

Additionally, web radio services like Pandora and TuneIn will be integrated into Sense 4's "Music Hub" which will serve as a sort of all-in-one aggregator for users' music. "This is huge," commented Boy Genius Report (here).

Sense 4's music features also integrate with HTC's "completely new car experience," which aims to make music services easy to use while driving. HTC will even offer a wireless stereo clip accessory that will stream music from a user's phone to the car dashboard. That includes local music files, more than 50,000 streaming radio stations and audio from any music app. HTC also revealed an accessory that will play a device's content on a HDMI TV screen. 

HTC may have even more streaming music plans up its sleeve. Earlier this month, GigaOM reported that the company was rumored to be working on its own streaming music service. HTC may also be working on some sort of wireless boombox. Find more from GigaOM here.

AndroidHTC's new devices will be available in the U.S. in April. You can find more coverage in CNet here, Engadget here and HTC's press release here.

Also at MWC, Google announced that 850,000 Android devices are being activated every day. That's up "a whopping 250% year-over-year," reports Boy Genius Report (here). Android's app store now has 450,000 titles -- "a mere 50,000 shy of Apple's iOS App Store."

ComScore recently found that Android has a 47.3% market share among U.S. consumers with a smartphone. Overall, 42% of U.S. mobile phone users own a smartphone (up from 27% in 2010). You can find more from Engadget here.

Michael Schmitt
February 27, 2012 - 12:20pm

Pandora mobileLast week Evolver.fm's Eliot Van Buskirk suggested web music services offer offline playback options to help mobile users get around restrictive data plans (RAIN coverage here). He noticed Slacker includes such a feature, as do many on-demand services, but Pandora and other web radio companies do not. Why?

Two reasons, he found. The first is that "Pandora doesn’t have the necessary license from copyright holders that would allow them to store hours of programming on your smartphone."

The second is that Pandora "doesn't view offline playback as a necessary feature." Pandora VP of corporate communications Deborah Roth told Van Buskirk that the company's mobile app offers a "seamless listening experience regardless of signal drop... it doesn't really have relevance to the data plans. Audio streams extremely efficiently and we've seen no impact of data plan caps for our listeners."

You can find Van Buskirk's coverage here.

Michael Schmitt
February 27, 2012 - 12:20pm

Wahwah.fmA new iPhone app lets users create Internet radio stations and listen to other users' streams.

Called wahwah.fm, the app matches a user's local library with cloud-based files through 7digital. Users can create a radio station out of such tunes that other users can listen to in real-time (similar to Turntable.fm). GigaOM calls it "a modern take on the pirate radio concept."

Wahwah.fm is currently restricted only to iPhones in Germany. The company hopes to soon release an Android app and expand worldwide. For now, the service earns revenue from location-based marketing (like allowing record labels or retailers to create their own stations and target users who live where a new release is dropping).

GigaOM has more coverage here.