Pandora Hits the Desktop With AIR. *Thud*

Personalized radio service Pandora has taken the plunge and released an AIR application into beta that allows users to play music from Pandora without opening the browser.

When I first heard of this development, I thought it was such a cool idea. Music playback is one of those things that really doesn’t need a full browser experience; just give me a simple control panel to enter songs, play and pause, and fast forward.

Unfortunately, the AIR version of Pandora doesn’t do much to actually improve the user experience. See that screenshot above? You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a screenshot of the regular Pandora homepage. It’s actually a screenshot of the AIR application itself.

Why does it look and function pretty much the exact same? Pandora explains that it needs the real estate of a large window to show the advertisements that support its operations.

But the large window pretty much robs the AIR application of all its value. The only additional functionality of any substance is a menu for switching stations that pops up when right clicking on a dock icon. Alas, even this triggers the large window to appear.

If Pandora is going to make this work, it’ll need to find a way around the advertising conundrum. But even if it does, it won’t be the only one. I imagine that lots of web services will have to wrestle with how to provide maximum functionality through AIR without sacrificing too much ad revenue. The problem is only exacerbated with a service like Pandora that’s so simple to operate.