Pandora for Windows Mobile – the last word

Tom Conrad, CTO for Pandora, has graciously replied to our castigation of his companies Windows Mobile strategy and I have decided to post his reply in full on the front page.

Tom Conrad Says:

Well, certainly guilty as charged.

Without question I’ve learned a lesson about commenting on unreleased products… truth is it was almost two years ago when I shared on our blog that we were working on a Windows Mobile build of Pandora. At the time I really believed it was less than 90 days away from release. I guess it’s never a good idea to talk about products that you haven’t yet released.

The full story here is that back almost two years ago we started building a Windows Mobile build of Pandora for the original Blackjack. At the same time working on establishing direct relationships with the carriers. About the time we got the Windows Mobile client into an alpha state, our deals with Sprint (and then later AT&T) came through. With those deals in place we started shifting our mobile development priorities to sync up with what the carriers wanted us to do — without exception that was to so-called “feature phones” and not smart phones. Pandora is still a small startup, so we had to shift our mobile team away from Windows Mobile and onto getting Pandora up and running on the J2ME feature phones. It was almost 18 months before the carriers began to show any interest at all in us adding Windows Mobile versions to the mix. We’ve been actively developing a full Windows Mobile version for the last couple of months.

When the iPhone SDK became available we — fairly i think — saw an opening to ride the iPhone 3G / App Store launch wave and in the process help people understand that Pandora is available in a mobile form as well. Certainly that bet has paid off… but I understand how frustrating it must be that we’ve not yet finished what we started on the Windows Mobile front.

The good news is that we do have a team working on Windows Mobile versions of Pandora. Given my track record it’s probably best not to comment on the “when” but it’s certainly not a question of “if”.

At least for a small company like Pandora, the incredibly diverse mobile universe creates a real challenge with respect to where to place your limited resources. Without question the iPhone turned out to be a great bet for us. So far, the investment in feature phones has been a more modest success. We’re all optimistic that we’ll be able to find a iPhone-like success on Windows Mobile, but only time will tell.

As for Android, we certainly think that openness is a good thing — my (regrettable) comment quoted above was more about the challenges that often come along with mobile OS’s that run across devices from a variety of hardware manufacturers. We’ve found that firmware issues (particularly related to music playback and streaming) often make ports from one handset to the next a much trickier proposition that you’d think. Hopefully Android will avoid this trap. Wish I’d chosen my words more carefully.

I’m glad you guys are taking us to task on this topic and I’m hopeful that at least some of you will give us a chance when we (finally!) bring Pandora for Windows Mobile to market.

Best,
Tom
CTO @ Pandora

I think his statement can stand as the last word, and from now on it would be the companies actions which speak for them.

Comments