Shares of Internet radio giant Pandora Media Inc. fell Wednesday after an analyst said Apple Inc.’s technology will give it an advantage as it pushes into the market of in-car listeners.
Richard Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG who has a “sell” rating on Pandora’s shares, said Apple is making an “increasingly aggressive push” into the ever-critical car market with its coming iTunes Radio and an extension of its Siri voice control feature.
Greenfield said he has been using the developer version of Apple’s new service, and has noticed an increasing amount of content, improved Siri performance and no pop-up ads. The combined offerings present a fierce competitor for Pandora in cars, which is a huge market for the digital music industry.
“Apple is leveraging its expertise in marrying hardware and software design to strengthen their ecosystem as they try to take a more active role in the ‘connected car,’” Greenfield wrote in a blog post.
Pandora’s stock fell more than 8% Wednesday.
Greenfield also posted a demo video showing how iTunes Radio works and noting the lack of pop-up ads.
The Apple service lets users activate and customize stations through Siri by saying commands like “Play Radiohead Radio,” “Play more like this” and “Don’t play this song again.”
“Siri’s really come a long way,” Greenfield said in the demo. “Imagine, if you were driving, just how easy this would be.”
In addition, though Siri commands will work with Pandora, Greenfield said, the voice technology clearly favors iTunes Radio.
“If you were in Pandora and used Siri with the command ‘play Jazz Radio’ it would literally stop Pandora, open up iTunes Radio and starts playing the iTunes Radio Jazz station.”
Pandora has already made strides in the automobile market. Last month, the company announced it is available through 100 car models. So far, 2.5 million users have activated the service through integrations with automotive brands and aftermarket manufacturers.
The automotive market is important to Pandora, which has partnerships with 23 automobile brands and announced its first such partnership in 2010. About half of all radio listening happens in the car, the company has said.
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