Slacker raises $9.6M for player that customizes radio on the go

Slacker, popular internet radio provider and maker of a customizable radio-listening device, has brought in $9.6 million of what it hopes will be a $10.2 million third round of funding. Based in San Diego, Calif., the company now offers the same radio stations and capabilities in the form of applications for the Blackberry and iPhone.To put it simply, the device — called the Slacker G2 — seems to be the physical manifestation of Pandora Radio (or a mashup of the service and the iPod). For $199, you get the unit pictured right, which will play unlimited music from Slacker radio stations that supposedly fits your predefined tastes. You can also enter the name of an artist to hear music from someone similar. For customers who order now, the company says it will preload their G2s with their selected radio stations so it’s ready to go from the moment they turn it on.

It’s unclear why a separate device is needed for this considering how widely popular Pandora and similar music recommendation engines have become. The Slacker player seems to be an even narrower offering, actually, with the device only drawing from existing Slacker radio stations. This might appeal to devotees of Slacker’s online radio selection but will probably have a hard time attracting new listeners into the fold.

The company has not disclosed who provided the recent, surprisingly large round of funding, but it has relied on investors Centennial Ventures, Rho Ventures, Austin Ventures, Mission Ventures and Sevin Rosen Funds in the past. The company has raised about $65 million to date, bringing in about $5 million of that at the end of last year.

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