Slacker is a new competitor on the internet audio scene. They have a couple of key differentiating features:
- Advertising supported streaming radio. This can be upgraded to no advertisements by paying a monthly fee.
- A music player (not out yet) that gets content from satellite or wifi (whichever is available). The player is not yet shipping so it remains to be seen how well this works.
While neither of these are exactly new, I actually think both of these features are pretty significant. #1 lets you get started (and hooked) without paying for the service. #2 effectively removes the requirement to have a PC as the gateway to the service. It remains to be seen if a PC is not really required as a big part of the offering is also playing on your PC. The big challenge will be how to make an impact and be heard in this space that is crowded and dominated by Apple. Now if they actually subsidize the player price with advertising and effectively offer a heavily discounted player, that would be very interesting. I think this could get them traction.
Not sure what part DRM will play in their service but I am guessing that EMI tracks should be available DRM free.