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Customers Won't Have a Seamless Internet Car Radio Experience For A While

Pandora and other Internet radio companies may be going after the vehicle market, but they still haven't conquered the classic radio hurdle â€"- a seamless broadcast.

At the recent San Francisco Music Tech conference, Pandora Radio CTO Tom Conrad noted there are three ways to have Internet radio in the car. One, "fumbling around with the iPhone in the car." Two, bundle it in the car or have a tethered handset. Finally, to have cars tied to the cloud. "There's no timeline on the last one," he added. For now, option one is our reality and option two is the goal of most Internet radio companies.

Regardless, even with the futuristic cloud system, it's still the same issue of dropped reception because of bad weather, remote areas and tunnels.

Services like Pandora Radio and benefit from timeshifting -â€" saving the next minute or more of programming so the consumer can continue without interruption. Presumably, as the technology advances, the buffer will get wide enough for consumers to listen undisturbed for a significant amount of time. Ideally it will be like vibration protection in car CD players â€"- it takes a serious disturbance to skip the music simply because the buffering is so great.

As my BNET colleague Erik Sherman noted after the conference, Pandora is hitting vehicles hard: Conrad says he expects the tailored Internet radio software in 60 certified products by next year, many of them cars. If it were time to come up with a more elegant solution, it would be right now -â€" and hopefully it will be more ambitious than option number two.

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