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Big Day for Pandora: Redesign, 100 Million Users and New Social Features

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By: Corey Tate
July 12, 2011

OK, so now the registered user announcement war is starting to heat up. Pandora announced today that it has 100 million registered users and 36 million monthly active users, dwarfing any U.S.-based streaming music service. They're also expanding further into the car market, and are launching an epic Pandora redesign with the inclusion of new social features and and HTML5 set up. Spotiwho?

Pandora's in on 10 more Ford vehicles and two more Lincoln vehicles, deepening their relationship with the Ford Motor Company. They also have plans in the works with other auto manufacturers, including Buick, Chevrolet, GMC, Hyundai and Toyota. They're ALSO moving in on the car stereo crowd, with Alpine Electronics, JVC, Kenwood and Pioneer and Sony. Pandora: soon to take over the world, and they're starting with your car.

But the biggest news of today is probably the new Pandora redesign in HTML5 and the inclusion of more social features. The redesign will roll out first in their premuim subscription service Pandora One, and eventually will be made available to all users. Here's a quick run through of what the new Pandora redesign will bring us: a faster, cleaner design; more social features; easy user experience to make Pandora more usable; improved search; individual profiles and a music feed that's populated with music from your Pandora social network of friends and family. Let's break a few of these down.

The Pandora redesign offers faster start-up times and quicker response, largely due to ditching a Flash build in favor of HTML5 on the front end. Pandora had been working with the same Flash set-up for years, and decided the time was right to make the jump to HTML5 and make it available on ALL mobile devices, even if they don't support Flash. Not that I'm naming any names ... They've also made the redesign easier to use, with the creation of dedicated stations, browse by genre features and easier operability with playback controls.

New Pandora social features include a more broad use of Pandora's thumbs-up voting system to gauge the community's approval/disapproval of a song. Maybe we'll see this a Pandora chart or something, but since we've been voting thumbs up or thumbs down on Pandora for years it seems like a logical extension to not just make that indivdual user-based, but also work it on the social community level as well. Other new Pandora social features include creating individual profiles and social circles of friends, family, etc; then you can see what others are listening to and recommending. The Pandora Music Feed looks like it will be a major part of this.

Pandora's head of product and CTO Tom Conrad has been working on these ideas and features for years, and it looks like the new Pandora redesign and Pandora social features will pay off.

“I’ve been looking at it for seven years. I was ready to give it a fresh coat of paint. We started on it about a year ago. But even earlier than that, we’d been talking about it. There were core navigation problems that needed fixing. At first, we had been talking about more incremental changes, with the site still operating in Flash. But then last summer, it became clear that browsers with full HTML5 capabilities had gained enough support. We realized we could do the full Pandora experience without Flash,” said Conrad when speaking to TechCrunch.

Pandora went through their initial public offering last month, with a rocky start that soon smoothed out. Its stock value is a few dollars per share above where it started. Find out more about the Pandora redesign here.

Check out more about steaming music sites in the Spacelab Streaming Music Guide.

Tags: Pandora, Digital Music News
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