The Tale of Pandora, or Why API Support Matters

By: Locke
July 7th, 2012
2:24 am

The Tale of Pandora, or Why API Support Matters

Yesterday I made a little mention of Pandora when I was talking about the return of MetroTube to the Marketplace. It's kind of old news by now that Pandora likes to break third party apps, but bear with me for a moment because I'm just using that as a springboard into a wider point that is begging to be made.

Pandora is a popular internet radio service that allows users to make their own stations by putting in the kinds of music they like, providing a more customized experience than tuning into the airwaves in your car. It was a great idea, and I remember signing up fairly early on, and was greatly intrigued by their Music Genome Project. As the years went on I found other ways to discover music and my own collection grew, and I find the tools Zune provides excellent at providing music, but I still remember what a leap it seemed to me when I was younger how great Pandora was at finding music I liked.

With the advent of Windows Phone 7, we wanted support for Pandora on our phones. People do everything on their phones these days, consolidating the PMP functions of old into the ever growing smartphone market. Pandora has continued to refuse to build an official app for the platform, as you can tell by a quick look down this list of articles. That's fine, the market for Windows Phone is only growing, and I think not getting in on it before Windows Phone 8 is a mistake, but committing resources to such a task is entirely their prerogative. What does bother me, and what you'll also notice looking down that list, is the frequent attempt to break anyone else's apps from giving access to the service. In the most recent statement, Pandora had this to say:

Originally Posted by
We definitely do recognize that our actions limit the options available to well-intentioned listeners who do not want to use any of our endorsed clients, and we're genuinely sorry for the inconvenience this brings to our enthusiastic listeners like yourself!
How can they say this with a straight face? If Pandora provided a client, I'm sure many Windows Phone users would jump on it (I'm aware there's an HTML5 website, but from what I've heard it doesn't run very well in WP7, so that's not a solution); it's certainly not a lack of want that causes people to use third party alternatives. I can understand the security concerns, I can understand that you don't want people to sell access to your service. I get that, in your opinion, Windows Phone isn't worth it. But there's a fairly simple solution to this: work with the people who are only trying to fix your mistakes.

When developers want to fill in the gaps in the Windows Phone lineup, they often run into problems, such as with MetroTube. Metrogram was also hindered by Instagram's lack of API support. In both cases, the developers were rebuffed when appealing to the owners for the support they needed to make their apps work. Google is rapidly becoming a monolithic corporation that eschews their founding "don't be evil" philosophy, and now Instagram is owned by Facebook, another large company that often puts its own interests above that of its customers, but do you really want to put yourself in their company, Pandora? You have fans who would be overjoyed to do all the development work for you. Sure, there's time and cost involved in vetting such applications to ensure that, at the least, they are not malicious, but this is nothing compared to the work you seem so afraid to undertake yourselves, and think of the good will you could garner with Windows Phone users if you stopped dedicating your efforts to stop us from using your service! Pandora, and indeed anyone who provides a service that deserves a place in the Marketplace lineup, should be working with their customers, not against them. So please, all of you service providers out there, if you're not willing to support our platform, will you at least make it possible for us to do it for you? We really want to.

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