Pandora Eyes China, Goes HTML 5

Oakland-based company seeking a new, enormous market.

By RJ Middleton
|  Wednesday, Sep 21, 2011  |  Updated 8:43 AM PDT
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Pandora Eyes China, Goes HTML 5

Oakland's Pandora has redesigned with HTML5 and (wait for it...) has removed the listening cap. No longer will 40 hours of free music every month be a user's limit. The company is also reportedly looking to expand into China.

First, the new design is crisper, with easy-to-use controls (think iTunes), but the iPad download was redirected to the older version -- must still be in development.

Pandora also says that a social aspect is coming soon. "[A] centralized place to find, like and comment on what friends and like-minded listeners are discovering and enjoying on Pandora."

Pandora is scouting for China-area CEO candidates to facilitate a move into that huge, problematic market, according to Sina Tech (via PennOlson.com).

Operating in China has tremendous upside -- as in, millions of potential customers -- but has been thorny for some other tech companies (Google and Apple). There are even some ethical landmines that need heavy consideration.

Beyond the licensing that must be obtained for the music, there are uphill climbs around a major competitor already in place: Baidu Ting.

Baidu -- the Chinese search giant -- signed an agreement with Universal, Warner and Sony representatives in July, enabling a pay-per-play and download service.

If Pandora goes with a paid/subscription model, Apple has a cautionary tale: be sure to make it easy for people to pay. Apple's iTunes store has had limited success relative to the market's potential.

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