Pandora today launched a new browser-based interface for TVs that it hopes will help set the standard for using the service in the living room. The first devices to support this new HTML5-based interface are the Xbox 360 and PS3, both of which will finally get their first semi-native implementations of Pandora, thanks to this new version.
Pandora’s goal, its CTO Tom Conrad told me earlier this week, is to become as ubiquitous as radio is today. In the last few years, Pandora has focused strongly on getting into more cars (it now has partnerships with 23 automotive brands and is available in 90 different car models) and other platforms. About a third of radio listening happens in the home, however, so to drive a path to this goal, the company has to figure out how it can become just as ubiquitous on the large screens that now dominate our living rooms.
Already, more than 10 million people have listened to Pandora on their TVs and through TV set-top boxes, but as Conrad noted, to get this to work, the team had to create custom implementations for all of the TVs, set-top boxes and Blu-ray players it supports (or give up control and allow the OEMs to create their own experiences). This fragmentation makes it hard for Pandora to quickly innovate and add new features to these platforms, which are often tightly controlled by the OEMs. The hope here, of course, is that more of these platforms will switch to standards-based interfaces over the long run.
“The world doesn’t need more proprietary platforms fragmenting the innovative efforts of developers everywhere,” Conrad says in a blog post today. A browser-based version, then, gives the company full control over the experience, and, thanks to a smart implementation of this system, users can still control the experience with their regular remote controls. This new “10-foot” interface will also allow users to thumb-up and thumb-down tracks, as well as to play, pause and skip songs just like in Pandora’s other apps.
If you own an Xbox 360 or PS3, you can now try this new version at tv.pandora.com.