The iPOD, the Zune and Gracenote

 

It is probably obvious to everyone that the iPOD changed the world. Introduced in October 2001, over 150 million iPODs have been sold at last count and that number continues to grow rapidly. The Microsoft Zune, a relative newcomer, is also enjoying brisk sales. People are now able to take their music with them anywhere they go and listen whenever they want.

 

Automotive OEMs are reacting to the portable media phenomena and are providing connectivity for these devices into automotive head units. What was the exclusive domain of the aftermarket is now becoming mainstream. People can plug their iPODs, Zunes and even USB sticks into the car and play their music back over their car stereos.

 

Taking it one step further, we are starting to see cars with hard drives on-board. People can now download their music to their cars – turning them into giant portable media players on wheels.

 

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OK, well maybe that’s a stretch but portable media is definitely becoming a big part of the automotive experience going forward.

 

With several family members (and their friends) often sharing a single vehicle, a lot of content can find its way into the car. That content is likely to be pretty diverse and not everybody in the family necessarily likes everybody else’s taste in music. I like alt rock and jazz, my wife likes pop and my in-laws like country. Download all this content into the car and you run the risk of listening to music you can’t stand. Cruising along at 70 miles per hour, you can either put up with it or start fighting with your stereo to make it go away – a risky proposition.

It seems the ability to manage your content intelligently would be a good thing to add to the mix. Gracenote brings exactly this to the market. They provide the ability to organize and navigate large music collections. Gracenote software analyzes and recognizes tracks and organizes them by genre, by artist and even by album. With over 1600 pre-defined genres you can quickly narrow down the style of music you feel like listening to, even in the most eclectic of music collections.

 

One of the coolest features of their product is called “more like this”. The “more like this” command creates customized playlists based on the current song. Its not to far off the concept I described recently when I blogged about Pandora. The seed song is used as a starting point and Gracenote then builds a playlist. If you like what you hear, you can save the playlist and if you don’t, you can start again.

 

Like Pandora, they deliver not only the music but also all the metadata associated with the music. You can check out album art, lyrics, artist biographies and even album reviews – although you probably shouldn’t be reading album reviews on the freeway.

 

The QNX Gracenote solution will be on display in the Gracenote booth at CES. If you happen to be attending, stop by and have a look – and a listen.

Romain 

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One Response to The iPOD, the Zune and Gracenote

  1. Great information. Lucky me I came across your site by chance (stumbleupon).
    I’ve saved it for later!

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