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Published on March 15th, 2007 | by Tom

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Apple Listen Up: Slacker is iRadio

By now you know my rant on commercial radio: it’s like walking around with someone else’s iPod, listening to someone else’s playlist.  On shuffle.  And, then you get the obnoxious interruption ads to boot.  Old radio is deader than old TV. (Tombomb archives: Podcastrated: Why Radio is History)

Fortunately, a spate of web 2.0 companies has come to the rescue.  I listen to Groovera and Live365 when I am in earshot of my laptop.  Last.fm and Pandora are also hot.

Yesterday, Slacker, a new San Diego-based company started by music industry veterans, launched a personal radio service that ratchets up the Internet radio experience with lots of customized goodies and adds a mobile player. 

From Matt Marshall at VentureBeat:

The device is about the size of a blackberry. So you can carry it around like you do an iPod. However, Slacker’s servers will communicate with your Slacker device constantly. It uses commercial satellites, and WiFi, refreshing your device’s drive with new songs when they are available. Slacker has a car dock.

The basic Slacker account will be free. A premium service of $7.50 a month lets you save tracks, and avoid ads. The hardware devices, depending on the model, will cost $149, $299 and $399. They’ll ship during the second half of the year. Slacker wants to integrate its music service within other devices, too, such as cellphones. You’ll be able to download up to 2,000 songs on the low-end device. Downloads will be $1 a track.

Freedom to roll is a big deal, but a big question mark is "device fatigue."  With mobile phone, iPod and blackberry, will someone also find pocket room for a Slacker? 

And there is the squeeze play the company could face, residing as it may, in a no man’s land between iPod and XM/Sirius.  Not a lot of breathing room.  And, Steve Jobs knows it’s time to upgrade iPod for radio.

Prediction: This time next year Slacker is renamed Google Radio after buyout.

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