Archive for August, 2005

Why a web app? Pandora on your blog…

August 29, 2005

Good old Robert Scoble raises the question of why Pandora is a web app and not a rich client. This is something we gave a great deal of thought to and I think in the end we have some really great reasons for wanting to be a web app. First, there are a lot of thick client music applications (iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody) so that’s pretty well traveled ground. There aren’t so many web based applications that have really nailed a listening-centric music application. It’s always more interesting to try something new, to go left when everyone else goes right. But it’s much more than that. For a little taste, look in the sidebar on my blog (those of you in an aggregator will have to stop by http://tomconrad.blogspot.com) — see the stations? The little form to create your own station? We think it’s really fun that folks will be able to throw this kind of thing onto their blog or homepage, share stations via email and know that the people that encounter the links won’t have to install a thing. Just one click and they’re listening. That’s powerful, and much too appealing an opportunity to pass up.

I’ll post again later this week about how to link to Pandora directly; for now feel free to pick apart the meager HTML I slapped together tonight for my sidebar. This stuff is pretty basic right now; stay tuned – you haven’t seen anything yet.

Pandora Launch: 8/29/2005

August 29, 2005

We’ve launched Pandora… we had a great preview release and we’ve been able to take feedback from the thousands of people that have been listening for the last month and improve the service in some pretty substantial ways. I can’t wait for you to see the new Pandora — I hope you’ll stop by to check it out.

PS: I just have to say a word of thanks to the hundreds of people that have blogged about us in the past few weeks. It’s incredibly gratifying to be let into your thoughts on what we’ve created. I’ve been keeping a feed of it all (good, bad, ugly) on del.icio.us. If you’re curious about this Pandora thing, don’t listen to me, have a look at what others are saying: http://del.icio.us/tconrad/pandora-music.

Pandora and OpenLaszlo

August 29, 2005

Our just-now-launched music discovery service, Pandora, is an OpenLaszlo application. It wouldn’t be fair to finish up our launch without a tip of the hat to the amazing Laszlo team and open source community.

Eight months ago when we sat down to figure out how were were going to deliver a compelling zero-install discovery and listening experience across Windows, Mac, and Linux in record time we considered everything you can imagine: plain old HTML, AJAX, Flex, OpenLaszlo to name just a few. In the end, Laszlo was the clear winner on all fronts. Mature, reliable, and the perfect tool for the job. This outcome was only remarkable in that the decision was made by some of the most capable AJAX developers on the planet. I’ll have more to say about Laszlo in another post, but for now I just want to publicly say thanks to the great team at Lazslo. Pandora wouldn’t be Pandora without you. (Tags: , , )

Post BAR Camp Feedback on Pandora

August 21, 2005

It’s been a pretty incredible weekend for Pandora and for me personally. BAR Camp was an amazing event; lots of really smart, passionate people coming together to share ideas. Fantastic.

Yesterday was my first chance to give a public demonstration of Pandora, and it was more fun than you can know to get to share it with this group of people.

The product was really well received, and there has been some great dialog at the conference (Scoble today called it “the talk of BAR Camp”) and around the blogosphere since. Here’s some of what’s being said:

Michael Arrington: Dig into the Music Long Tail – Pandora
Robert Scoble: Pandora Rocks BAR Camp
Technoogle: Discover New Music with Pandora
Kevin Burton: Pandora: Music for the Long Tail
Craig Randall: Pandora Rocks
Vincent Oberle: Pandora, My New Radio

One of the things that’s happened is that folks are starting to compare us to last.fm (for example this post: Finally: An Alternative to Last.fm). I’d like to go on the record as saying that I’m a big fan of what the guys at Last.fm / Audioscrobbler are doing. They uncover & expose people to all the social layers that music is wrapped up in and it’s always interesting to know what your friends (and others like them) are listening to. I’ve certainly found new music this way; anyone that’s out there trying to help people discover new music is definitely ok by me.

At Pandora we’ve just taken a totally different approach. With the Music Genome Project, we’ve built something that’’s based entirely on the sound of the music itself. We’ll connect together a Metallica ballad with an Indigo girls song if they’’re a good fit musically. We think that’s a unique take on the space, and that is creates really a delightful and totally unexpected listening experience. For my part, I think it compliments the great work going on at Last.fm / Audioscrobbler.

Want to listen? While we’re currently in a “preview” mode, we’re being very liberal with handing out invitations. If you’d like to listen to the service (for free I might add), drop me an email at tomconrad-at-gmail-dot-com and I’ll make sure you get one ASAP.

Pandora Tip: For those of you who are already Pandora listeners, you can invite up to 25 of your friends to the preview without getting us in the loop at all. Just click the little triangle next to one of your stations and select “Share this station with a friend”. We’ll take care of sending an invite out immediately along with a link to your station.
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BAR Camp

August 19, 2005

I’ve decided to make the trek down the peninsula this weekend to hang out at BAR Camp. I’ll be there Saturday talking about Pandora, the Music Genome Project, and making sure that everyone that’s there can get a invitation to our preview. It might also be fun to talk a bit about how a purely community-driven system (say, via Tags) compares with what we’re doing with the Genome and how the two approaches can compliment and enhance one another.

I can also talk a good bit about how we chose between an AJAX front end and one built with OpenLaszlo. Our experience with OpenLaszlo has been incredible; it was the perfect choice for us.

All of these meetups are such a great thing for the tech community – so many great ideas getting passed back and forth. I’m really looking forward to this one. If for whatever reason you’ve hesitated to attend one of these “open invite” events, I’d encourage you to get over it and stop in. In my experience there’s always some great conversation and everyone is made to feel welcome. (Tags: )

See you @ Henry’s?

August 17, 2005

Niall Kennedy has put together a dinner tonight @ Henry’s Hunan in SF. I’ll be there. If anyone that’s attending would like an invite to the Pandora preview, just drop me an email (tomconrad-at-gmail-dot-com). I’ll make sure you get an invite today.

Why I love working on consumer software

August 7, 2005

Over the years I’ve been involved in a mix of things ranging from consumer products (You Don’t Know Jack, Apple, Pets.com) to enterprise software (Documentum, Relevance, Kenamea). While my years working on enterprise stuff where interesting, rewarding, and often at the cutting edge (for example, at Kenamea we built an AJAX platform almost 4 years ago), I’m never happier than when I’m working on consumer products. That was even true for one that failed horribly.

14 days ago we launched a preview release of Pandora a music discovery service that helps you create personalized “stations” that will introduce you to all kinds of music that we think you’ll love. Ever since we launched we’ve been getting lots and lots of feedback from our early listeners. Here’s a blog post that’s consistent with the majority: One Sweet Nothing. What could be better than that?

We created this service because we love music and we really do want to help people out there who struggle to connect with all the great stuff that’s out there. So far it seems like it’s working and I can’t imagine anything more gratifying than that. If you’d like an invitation to join the preview, drop me an email. I’d be happy to get you connected and listening right away.

Why Apple’s "Mighty Mouse" Matters

August 7, 2005

It’s been fun to watch the mac-o-philes dissect the new two-button, scroll-ball sportin’ “Mighty Mouse” that Apple released last week. By all accounts it seems to be a nice little mouse. Now taken by itself it’s hard for me to get too excited; for some time the Mac would work with just about any mouse you threw at it and if there’s one thing the computer world has in abundance it’s mice.

There is however, a good reason to be excited about this development when you consider Apple’s decision to move to Intel CPU’s. One of the dimensions to the Intel story that hasn’t received much attention is the possibility that Apple’s next generation Macintoshes will be able to run Windows (PC World). I personally think this is a very big deal. While the real magic of the Macintosh may be the whole hardware/software integration, I think there are a lot of Apple devotees out there that buy Apple primarily for the industrial design of the hardware. This is particularly true for their laptops. I think there is an even larger contingency that would buy a Macintosh if they felt like they could drop back to Windows should circumstances require it. I think they’re going to sell a lot of hardware to this crowd. Remember, Apple is a hardware company and those market share numbers we hear so much about are really hardware numbers.

How does Mighty Mouse fit into this? It’s not so much the mouse that is exciting, but the possibility that they’ll build similar “buttonless” two-button technology into their PowerBooks and iBooks. To me, the lack of two-button support on the portables was the last hurdle to making their Intel-powered hardware appeal to the Windows crowd. My money says that we’ll see two-button support similar to the mighty mouse implementation in the PowerBook and iBook line just as soon as they switch to Intel. And then things get really interesting.

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