Leaving apps behind, next-gen smart TVs will simply connect to Pandora's new "big screen" site

Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 12:35pm

Today Pandora is available on more than 900 consumer electronics devices (besides computers, mobile phones, and tablets) like smart TVs, streaming media players, and home theater systems. To achieve this, the company has tasked an army of engineers to build the applications that run in each of these different environments.

Today Pandora revealed its new standards-based, HTML5 site for smart TVs, game consoles, and set-top boxes. CTO and EVP/Product Tom Conrad explained, "By using this platform, we can deliver a uniform experience across any standards-compliant TV, game console, or set top box and focus our efforts on end user benefits and innovation rather than platform specific details."

The site,, is optimized for a "10-foot experience," with navigation, controls, and display designed specifically for big screens. It's already running on the Xbox 360, will soon be available elsewhere as more vendors introduce standards-compliant (that is, which can handle HTML5) equipment.'s Eliot Van Buskirk adds that an added benefit for Pandora might be that advertisers will pay more for ads with display elements that are pumped-up for the big screen. He also notes that people often have their best sound-reproducing equipment connected to the television.

Read more from Van Buskirk here. Pandora's Conrad blogged about here. "alpha testing" new HTML5 interface; promises "personalities and local content" on Net radio with new TALK tech

Friday, August 10, 2012 - 11:30am

Swedish webcaster has launched an pre-release "alpha test" HTML5 version of its service for the web, with mobile apps in development.

The new HTML5 service is available to music industry professionals, journalists, and bloggers by invitation only. HTML5 is the newest iteration of "markup" language for the web, and integrates audio and video streams (as opposed to requiring an external application like Flash).

The Radical suite of online music services includes what it calls "passive stations" (which Radical compares to Pandora), "active playlists (like Spotify)," and a "personal broadcast" service called RadCast (which "makes every listener the owner of a broadcast radio station and permits personal streams to be shared in real-time").

Regarding RadCast, Radical founder/CEO Thomas McAlevey says in his company's press release, "Soon we will release TALK (in a Public Beta) giving users worldwide the ability to interject live audio for hosting music and talk shows, conducting interviews, and maybe toppling a dictatorship or two. The last bastion of old-fashioned radio – personalities and local content – is about to fall."

Radical invites artists to upload their material for streaming on the service, and now integrates SoundCloud to make that process easier.

Read Radical's press release here. Watch for a full review of in RAIN soon.

Nielsen: "Users perform better with apps," but HTML5-powered mobile websites may prove superior

Monday, February 20, 2012 - 11:45am

Jakob Nielsen"Should you produce a mobile website or develop special mobile apps?" Web usability guru Jakob Nielsen (pictured) argues that's one of the most important questions facing services with a sizable mobile audience. That certainly includes Internet radio: several services now report that more than half of their listeners tune in via mobile devices.

So what's the answer? For right now, writes Nielsen, it's apps.

"Our usability studies with mobile devices clearly show that users perform better with apps than with mobile sites," he writes. "Mobile applications are more usable than mobile-optimized websites because only limited optimization is possible during website design."

Mobile web radio

That said, in the future a mobile website will be the best answer. "New web technologies such as HTML 5 will substantially improve mobile site capabilities," Nielsen writes, echoing arguments heard when Adobe announced it would stop developing mobile Flash (RAIN coverage here). And in January, Hubbard Radio's VP of digital media recommended building iPad-friendly radio websites using HTML5 (RAIN coverage here).

"I do believe mobile sites will win over mobile apps in the long term," concludes Nielsen. "But when that will happen is less certain."

You can find Nielsen's full article on here.

Online ad buyers say they'll shift towards "brand advertising" in 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 11:15am

A recent survey of ad execs shows buyers plan to shift their online budgets more towards "brand advertising," and away from "direct response" style ads, in the coming year.

Inside Radio today reports on a survey by online ad tech company Vizu, where 64% of ad buyers said they'll increase online brand advertising this year. One in five said that increase will top 20%. Sixty percent said the increase in brand advertising will come at the expense of direct response budgets.

Even so, 56% of marketers still expect to increase direct response budgets in 2012 (which shows that the $30 billion a year online ad market is still growing).

Currently, about two-thirds of online ad campaigns are "performance-based" (e.g. "cost-per-click").

“The radio ad marketplace is used to a brand-friendly environment and will demand the same from online audio publishers,” Katz360 president Brian Benedik told Inside Radio. “Over the coming months, we will see larger ad units, video and other customized opportunities for the ad community."

The Interactive Advertising Bureau and webcaster Pandora have already introduced and offer new ad units designed more with brand advertising in mind, offering more screen space, HTML5 technology, video, and more.

Subscribe to Inside Radio here.

Group heads plan to focus on radio's mobile experience in 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 11:00am

Radio predictions for 2012Inside Radio today highlights digital radio trends to watch for in 2012, including the improvement of radio streams, the desire for a universal streaming radio platform and the transition from Flash to HTML5.

"Stations need to think of how their websites are built beyond the desktop browser," said Hubbard Radio VP of digital media Mark Preston. That especially includes iPads, which don't support Flash. Instead, Preston recommends adopting HTML5 (for more on HTML5 and Flash, find more RAIN coverage here).

Meanwhile, other digital radio executives tell Inside Radio that the industry "needs to collectively embrace a universal app where consumers can access all broadcast radio streams, not just those owned by one company." A similar platform, Radioplayer, exists in the UK (RAIN coverage here).

Finally, radio execs also spoke to the need to improve the streaming listening experience. "For Clear Channel and others," writes Inside Radio, "that includes limiting the number of in-stream commercials to better align the online experience with audience expectations."

You can subscribe to Inside Radio's daily newsletter here.

HTML 5 may be Net radio's mobile future after Adobe quits on mobile Flash

Friday, November 11, 2011 - 11:55am

Mobile devicesThis week Adobe announced it would cease developing its Flash technology for mobile devices, instead focusing on HTML5. Such a move could impact Internet radio, as many webcasters use Flash to stream and mobile is arguably the future of the medium.

HTML5 is a new, developing technology for web browsers that enables -- among many features -- native audio streaming without plug-ins like Flash. Pandora already uses HTML5 in its new website (RAIN coverage here), as did 35% of the 100 most popular websites in Q3 2011.

Plus, said Adobe VP and General Manager of Interactive Development Danny Winokur, “HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices," (whereas Flash was notably not supported on Apple mobile devices).

HTML5 and audioThe promise of HTML5 then, writes the Wall Street Journal (here), is that "developers can use HTML5 to get their creations on a variety of smartphones, tablets and PCs without tailoring apps for specific hardware or the online stores that have become gatekeepers to mobile commerce."

Though currently, most webcasters reach mobile listeners through apps, some argue that the future lies with mobile webpages -- not apps. Firefox-maker Mozilla's VP/Products Jay Sullivan recently argued, "If you want to have a variety of mobile apps, it gets expensive...that’s a lot of apps to build" (read more from VentureBeat here). A mobile HTML5 webpage, on the other hand, could be a single "product" that's accessible from a variety of devices.

In other words, with the demise of mobile Flash, HTML5 may very well be the technology that supports mobile Internet radio in the foreseeable future.

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