Back in the summer of 2008, Pandora had over 10 million listeners on the web and we were growing at a pretty good clip. Then in July we released Pandora for iPhone and everything changed. Suddenly, people could take Pandora with them: into the gym, the car, the living room, the kitchen, outside while jogging… the list goes on. Pandora truly became an anytime, anywhere phenomenon and as a result the use of Pandora accelerated dramatically. Less than two years later, we have over 50 million listeners and mobile listening accounts for more than 40% of the hours we stream.
In the years that followed, we brought Pandora to more and more environments with the goal of being everywhere our listeners wanted us to be: on Blackberries and Androids, Blu-Rays and TVs.
However, there was still one thing missing for our iPhone users: background listening. That’s all about to change.
Some weeks ago Apple invited us to a secret meeting where they revealed that background applications were coming to the iPhone OS 4 and that they’d like to use Pandora to show off these new capabilities at their big iPhone OS 4 product unveiling. Under the new operating system, Pandora will stream in the background while you use your iPhone to browse the web, read an e-book or play a game.
Participating in Apple’s launch event meant sending an engineer to Apple to update our software for OS 4 (this took about a day) and many, many, many (many) hours of presentation preparation so that we’d be ready to share the stage with Steve Jobs. This of course was all done with the utmost secrecy. Just a tiny handful of people even inside Pandora knew what we were doing.
Getting to participate in one of these Apple events has been a kind of lifelong dream for me. The Apple folks are masters of these types of presentations and it was an incredible experience to get to experience it from the inside. As our Founder Tim and I stood on stage presenting, there was a moment about halfway through where my nerves calmed enough (The software was going to work! It was going to be ok!) that I could just enjoy the moment and just take it all in. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
Apple released the iPhone OS 4 Developer Preview this week so that engineers can start updating their applications in anticipation of the launch of the new OS sometime this summer. We’re incredibly excited to enable background listening on the iPhone (and ultimately on the iPad too) — we’ll be ready just as soon as Apple ships the new OS.