In a MainStreet article, Seth Fiegerman suggests that Livio’s “Car Internet Radio” iPhone app is a giant-killer, primed to topple Satellite Radio. Hmmmm. Satellite Radio can be seen as valuable in two ways. For many, the programming on the “radio” is the key. The content is the lure, with premium syndication from Howard Stern, ESPN, NFL, etc that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. For these people, there really is no Satellite “killer app”. Given that a lot of this material is unavailable elsewhere, AM/FM, Internet Radio, or any other form of vanilla programming has no appeal.

The other viewpoint puts the emphasis on the “Satellite” instead – a non-location-specific transmission medium that can allow consistent access from anywhere while mobile. With this viewpoint, a cellular “Internet radio” – which uses the Internet as the distribution medium to access radio stations in the conventional sense – could indeed be a worthy competitor to Sirius/XM (provided that there was adequate data coverage in all visited areas). These “radio” stations may be streaming versions of a bonafide over-the-air (OTA) station, or an Internet agglomeration of custom programming available only as online content.

Let’s assume for a moment that someone is of a mind to accept Internet radio via cellular as a formidable alternative to Satellite. What exactly is special about Livio that makes it worthy of the “Satellite-killer” label? That question is neither Socratic nor rhetorical – I honestly would like an answer! There are plenty of other “Internet radio” iPhone applications – AOL Radio, StreamItAll, etc. Livio seems to have taken the concept and integrated GPS location service so that the directory can more easily identify “local” OTA stations. But is that enough of a distinction to consider it a “killer” rather than, say, AOL Radio? Doesn’t seem so to me.

Yet if you want to talk true “killer app”, look no further than Pandora and These programs also bill themselves as “Internet radio”, but I don’t believe that does them justice. “Personal On-Demand Online Music System” would be more appropriate. With these personalized services, one does not need to suffer with the selections that some other “programming director” decided to broadcast on a particular station at a particular time. Instead, the programming choice is your own – whenever the mood strikes and based on genre or specific artist/song.

Isn’t what-you-want-when-you-want so much better than listening to a preset Internet radio station where you dislike every 3rd song? (That one was rhetorical.) Both Pandora and allow you to tailor the music selection to your specific tastes and then incorporate communities-of-interest via the sharing of custom streams. That, to me, is a killer application. Satellite Radio (and Internet radio) are the 1990s “America Online” equivalents of spoon-fed syndicated entertainment. Personalized Pandora and are the “Facebook” equivalents of the next-gen on-demand Web 2.o social-media services.