Raditaz Challenges Pandora on Mobile Internet Radio

If you like Pandora, the argument goes, you’ll love Raditaz.

Startup Raditaz launched on Thursday, providing free Pandora-style mobile Internet radio to mobile devices, what the company called a “radical evolution of the Pandora model”.

Raditaz provides 14 million licensed tracks, and will fund itself through geolocated advertisements to listeners, both audio and visual. The service also promises unlimited skips, plus the ability to create channels based upon hashtags, and to follow “trending” channels near the user. For example, a user can create a “#beach” channel.

Pandora offers “more than 900,000 tracks,” according to a company representative.

Pandora, however, is nearly ubiquitous, with offerings on Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and a host of connected devices. For now, Raditaz is only available on iOS and Android, strictly as a mobile application.

For now, users can select from curated stations created in-house, or let the Raditaz algorithm create a station directly. Like Pandora, users can not select a specific song, as Spotify, MOG, Rdio, or other services allow one to do. However, the latter three services also require the user to pay for mobile access.

When a user creates a new station, that station is automatically assigned geographical coordinates so other users can find it in the Raditaz map view or when browsed on the explore page, according to the the company. Users can tag stations, and then those stations can be searched to see what’s trending in a specific community, or discover new music based on activities or interests. It’s not clear, however, whether Raditaz has tied its services to Twitter or Facebook, as other music services have done.

Raditaz did not say what platform would provide its geolocated advertising, although Livio, which is providing a platform to connect smartphone apps with cards, recently said that it signed a deal with Targetspot, to also fund IP services over a car radio based on geolocated ads.

As to whether or not Raditaz will require a user to turn on a battery-draining GPS function, the answer is apparently no.

“The location-awareness of Raditaz uses whatever is available from the phone location services, a spokeswoman said in an email. “This is preferably GPS but the iPhone, for example, will use cell towers or WiFi if it can. The really important answer to the question of battery life is: we don’t access GPS very frequently. Raditaz is not a GPS mapping system like MotionX, Geocaching or AllTrails; those high-accuracy GPS tracking systems use a lot of battery life because they are accessing the location services of the phone every second, at least. Raditaz is just not that frequent and does not require a high degree of accuracy – within 100 yards is more than enough.”

Raditaz raised $3 million to this point from angel investors, the company said.

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