The Future Of Internet Radio Examined At CES
January 6, 2014 at 4:44 PM (PT)
Internet radio got some attention from International CES with a panel talking about the medium's future.
TRITON DIGITAL's JOHN ROSSO noted that use of Internet radio is "driven 65% by mobile," while SLACKER RADIO's JACK ISQUITH also noted his company's move starting about three years ago towards mobile ("a good bet," he said, adding, "if you know anybody under 20, they can barely find the desktop"). The decline of dedicated devices for Internet streaming was noted by LIVIO RADIO's JAKE SIGAL, who lauded SONOS for its success but said that his own company saw the future being the integration of streaming into other devices, specifically into cars.
The question of curation versus automated customization, raised by moderator TIM STEVENS of CNET, was discussed by GRACENOTE's STEPHEN WHITE (whose product he positioned as enabling both) and ISQUITH, who asserted that "curation IS content ... we still put the human on top of the pyramid of what matters the most," whether the person is the programmer or the user. He said, however, that there are limits on what automation can do, and touted the desirability of serendipity in programming, which WHITE said is not mutually exclusive with customization.
ISQUITH cited some perceptual research done by SLACKER showing that people said social elements connected to music might appeal to their friends but not themselves; "We haven't cracked the code" of integrating social with the music offerings, he said. Meanwhile, SIGAL asserted that "there's never been a better time" to get involved in the automotive area for audio streaming, a sentiment echoed by WHITE.
Asked by STEVENS whether the future will be more about the connection of mobile phones to the dashboard or apps native to the car system, SIGAL suggested that both will play a part. "You have to follow the consumer and it has to be successful," he said, adding that "it has to be safe," noting that a crash of a dashboard system could affect a car's safety and security system.
The question of revenue was raised by STEVENS, and ROSSO noted that many services launch with the plan of being subscription-based but the majority of users go with the ad-supported free versions. "A lot of services are in perpetual free-trial mode," ROSSO said, adding, "the consumers have chosen an ad-supported model." ISQUITH, citing research with JACOBS MEDIA, referred to public radio's model, which limits commercial/underwriting messages and asks for donations several times a year.