Add Pandora to the list of free online music services you can access through the Logitech Squeezebox. Previously, the music service--which creates the equivalent of personalized radio stations based on your favorite artists and music genres--required a $36 yearly subscription fee to be accessed on a network digital audio player in the home. But there is a trade-off: the free service will be ad-supported (the subscription plan remains available to users who prefer an ad-free experience).
Initially, it appears that the Logitech Squeezebox products will be the only home audio streamer with access to the free Pandora service. However, it's a safe bet that the ad-supported Pandora service will also be making its way to the other two devices that support the current subscription service: the Sonos Music Systemand the Grace ITC-IR1000B Wi-Fi Radio.
The free Pandora tier isn't a huge surprise in the wake of the company's recently released iPhone/iPod Touch app, which had already blazed the trail for an ad-supported service. (The browser- and desktop-based Pandora is also free, with the ads appearing onscreen rather than through the audio stream.) No word on whether Sprint or AT&T users of the Pandora's On The Go service will be getting a free option, however--in the meantime, they're paying $3 and $9 per month, respectively.
If you want to know more about Pandora's evolving subscription and advertising models, tune in to this week's MP3 Insider podcast, where Senior Editor Donald Bell talks with Pandora founder Tim Westergren.