Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Pandora, iPhone Update and the Social Web
I swore I'd never use Twitter but felt obligated to give it a try, and well, whaddya know, I'm hooked. Initially I found it a fun way to keep a mini-diary and very much like TwitPic's integration with my iPhone. As time has gone on, I find it even more entertaining to read what my friends and colleagues are Twittering about, and we've even started using it as an informal tool for two-way communication, i.e. "does anyone have any advice on..."
On a tangentially related note, I did the iPhone OS update last week - I've been chomping at the bit for the App store to open in iTunes and even though I'm on a version 1 phone, I imagined this would open up some amazing functionality if not just some good time-wasting fun on the device. When the store opened over the weekend, I was nearly overwhelmed at the amount of free and reasonably priced apps, many related to some of my favorite web services, like Pandora radio and the NY Times crossword puzzle. If you're not familiar with Pandora Radio, it's a "smart" kind of radio station, which pushes music to your device, you give each track a thumbs up or down, and your voting and the opinions of other users of the service helps Pandora intelligently plan your playlist based on those preferences. I simplify, but if you want more information read about the Music Genome Project.
I was so impressed with the immediacy of having Pandora's service (linked to my web account, natch) on my phone that I Twittered (tweeted?) within minutes of trying it out. The next day, I got a reply from @rustyspeidel asking if Pandora used the Sprint Data (Edge) network or Wifi. I had only tried it on WiFi (no cell service at the house) but replied I would try it in the car. So Rusty, to answer your question: It DOES work on the Edge network. A bit sluggish at times and it only runs as a foreground app, so if you want to check your email Pandora will close. Also, it's a bit of a battery hog. I imagine the buffering is less of an issue for users of the newer 3G phones where that service is available, and if you have a power adaptor for your car that would negate the battery issue.
So, props to Pandora for pimping my phone. Even more impressive is that I was notified a few hours after my Twitter post that Pandora was following me on Twitter. I find it very impressive (and pretty cool) that they are keeping their ears open for what people are saying about them, and staying connected to the people that are likely to say things about them, good or bad. Twitter and blogging are great tools for staying engaged in conversation with your customers, and having worked in companies that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on focus groups of questionable authority, I think this provides a really cool insight into how technology is enabling organizations to connect with consumers.