Spotify puts Pandora in its sights with new Spotify Radio

Spotify is relaunching its Spotify Radio feature, enabling unlimited channels and skipping and more targeted channels in a bid to better take on Pandora. The improvements are limited to the desktop version of Spotify, though CEO and co-founder Daniel Ek said at the LeWeb conference that a mobile version is coming soon.

Users will be able to create as many channels as they want, while Pandora limits that to 100. Spotify will also enable users to skip as many songs as they would like, while Pandora limits skips to six per hour because of licensing restrictions. And instead of building channels based on genres or decades as it previously did, Spotify Radio allows users to select an artist and create a channel based on that musician.

Users can pick a track from their playlist and drag it into Spotify Radio to create a new channel for that artist. And if they discover a new song they like, they can drag the track and add it back into their playlists. Spotify Radio is available to both paid and free subscribers. It will be rolled out in the coming days as part of the new Spotify Apps platform, though users can get a look at a preview here.

Spotify Radio isn’t ready to take on Pandora just yet, because it’s not mobile, which is how most Pandora users experience the service. But Ek told TechCrunch that mobile service is coming “very soon.” Spotify Radio also doesn’t have the same type of thumbs up/down mechanism for feedback, so it’s unclear how smart Spotify Radio will be. Spotify said it has a new intelligent recommendation engine, but it’s not clear if it’s any smarter than Pandora.

But I think newly public Pandora(s p) has something to be worried about. Spotify is able to offer a good radio service within its existing offering that provides a similar experience to Pandora without some of the limitations. And because it’s connected to its existing library of 15 million tracks, Spotify Radio can work as a way for users to discover more music that can enhance the traditional Spotify experience. Pandora also lets you buy tracks that you discover, but it refers users to iTunes (s aapl) or Amazon. (s amzn)

Spotify is showing that it’s not letting up. It’s finally launched in the U.S. and has partnered with Facebook, which has helped its user base grow to 10 million, including 7 million new users since September. And though it had a somewhat underwhelming launch of Spotify Apps, the company is showing the power of the platform by turning Spotify Radio into its own app. It’s increasingly clear that Spotify wants to be the biggest name in music, and that means it takes on whomever it needs to do that.