Slacker Vs. Pandora on the BlackBerry Mobile Platform

Streaming Radio Options for the BlackBerry Mobile Platform

Not long ago, BlackBerry users were forced to sit by the sidelines as developers created streaming radio applications for other smartphones, but not the BlackBerry. However, as RIM began creating devices that are more consumer friendly and that are able to compete with other media phones, developers have paid attention. Currently, BlackBerry users who used to complain about being overlooked in this application genre are singing a new tune as two of the best streaming radio applications, Slacker and Pandora, are competing for space on the BlackBerry mobile platform. But which is the best and which one should you add to your device?


Slacker was the first to rise to the occasion and make streaming radio available for the BlackBerry mobile device. At last, BlackBerry users were able to customize their own radio stations and enjoy continuous, streaming music on their handheld device. Perhaps the best part was that Slacker premiered as a free application that was available for over the air (OTA) download and, though a premium version was available that would eliminate intermittent audio advertisements, BlackBerry users downloaded the free version in droves.


Slacker's time in the spotlight was short lived, however, as Pandora finally unveiled their long-awaited streaming radio application for BlackBerry. Of course, BlackBerry users were delighted that the streaming radio stations they were already enjoying on Pandora over the web, were now accessible on their BlackBerry smartphones. But most already had a Slacker application and many had even upgraded to Slacker's premium application.

The inevitable question floating around Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry blogs everywhere was which one should BlackBerry users keep and which one should they ditch?

Pandora or Slacker: Which is Better?

In comparing and contrasting the two streaming radio applications, it is clear that they are both of a pretty good quality and they both pretty much perform the same task. Although I'd been more familiar with Pandora before I was introduced to the Slacker BlackBerry application, by the time Pandora finally catered to BlackBerry users, I was already pretty attached to my Slacker app. I listened to it day and night until my ears sometimes hurt from from constant earphone use (do not try this at home!). I'd formed a relationship with Slacker and wasn't ready to part ways yet.

So, I did what most users did; I added Pandora and decided I would compare the two before rewarding one with a permanent spot on my device.

Comparing and Contrasting Slacker and Pandora

I quickly discovered a few notable differences between Slacker and Pandora:

  1. Pandora plays a better music selection. Slacker plays a good selection, but Slacker is more intuitive. With both applications, a user provides an artist and both applications provide music from that artist, as well as music and artists that are similar to the selection. Users then have the ability to rate the application's suggestion, which helps in customizing a station according to the user's likes and dislikes. With Slacker, I have to refuse more songs because I dislike them, than I do on Pandora, which seems to tune into my musical tastes automatically.
  2. Slacker has the ability to cache stations, which Pandora doesn't. This means that, on Slacker, I can save stations on my memory card so they are accessible from anywhere, even if I cannot access a stable Internet connection (both Slacker and Pandora stream over the web). With Pandora, no such option exists. This doesn't matter much when I'm at home and have a good connection, but when I'm in a spotty area, I don't like the constant buffering experienced with Pandora. With Slacker, I simply turn on a cached station and I'm able to enjoy my stations completely uninterrupted.
  3. Pandora doesn't subject users to audio ads. With Pandora's free version, ads appear on your BlackBerry screen, as opposed to 20-second commercials that interrupt on Slacker.

And the Winner Is…


Since neither takes up much memory space on my BlackBerry Curve 8330, I use them both. I listen to Pandora most often, because I can do so uninterrupted and I like their musical choices. But the ability to cache stations keeps me loyal to Slacker and, unless Pandora includes that option, I don't see myself altering my decision anytime soon.