Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Backlash! 10,000 channels of crap and only 1 button

Seven years after "AM, FM, iM," Internet radio devices are finally becoming mainstream. Broadband is ubiquitous, cheap, and reliable. WiFi is everywhere. And the bill of materials has reached the sub-$20 mark.

However, all is not well. These devices all seem to promote the fact that you can get "10,000+ stations." While 10,000 stations (and even more if you like) might be good thing on a PC, it is a disaster on a dedicated radio. The reality is that most of those 10,000 stations are just crap. Random playlists, police scanners, and other assorted flotsam. Finding the good among the bad and the ugly takes some work.

If users get frustrated on devices with a remote and multi-line displays like a Noxon, imagine the backlash when the users have only 1 or two buttons to navigate the infinite recursions of dubious "stations" presented by services like vTuner.

On the infinite dial, the value of the editor becomes more and more critical. Tuner2 inherits a philosophy started by Sonicbox back in 1999. Hand pick a selection of top stations, monitor them for reliability, and constantly weed out the bad ones. Couple that kind of tuning service with the ability to add stations that users discover on their own, and you have a winning approach which can easily be navigated by a couple buttons.

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