Pandora’s New Threat Comes From Samsung

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Pandora Media, Inc. (NYSE: P) recently rallied with its earnings report last week, but there is a new threat for it and other services.  A new Galaxy smartphone by Samsung comes with a new music service being called Samsung Music Hub.  While Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) may be the target for its iTunes store, and while Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) may be a target for its music downloads, Pandora Media may be the most at risk here.

The new service from Samsung is said to resemble almost all of the iTunes features but it effectively offers users a monthly subscription service that offers unlimited music that can be shares on multiple devices. That could be devastating for Pandora, particularly since mobile and smartphone users do not contribute as much as desktop users to Pandora’s ad revenues.

Pandora’s player is now available in 48 vehicle models as of May 2012, but the company claims that while it has a 71% share of internet radio listening it notes that 70% of Pandora’s total listening hours occur via mobile and non-traditional sources.  A subscription service from Samsung on an unlimited basis for music could put Pandora in the backseat.  This would be bad for Spotify as well.

As SIRIUS XM Radio Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) has so much of its own content, it may be somewhat immune here.  The key is ‘somewhat’ in the language.  Smartphones are not yet so smart that they beam music to a car radio while their owners are texting and talking while they are supposedly only focusing on the road.

Another issue for Pandora would be simply that the more music gets listened to the more money they lose under their current license arrangements.  Samsung may have a different target than Pandora, but Pandora is caught up in Samsung’s dragnet.  If you don’t believe this is a threat, just notice that Pandora shares were down 10.8% at $10.51 right at the 4 PM closing bell and trading volume was about double with more than 7 million shares trading hands.