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Mini is about to become the first mass production car with built-in streaming music, courtesy of German startup Aupeo. Aupeo bills itself as “Pandora for the rest of the world”, providing curated radio stations and a personal station based on recommendations. The company has quietly pursued a strategy of making deals with hardware vendors to pre-install Aupeo on various devices including Acer mobile phones, Asus netbooks and Philips TVs.
Mini Connected is an optional feature that costs 250EU ($328). It requires an iPhone to provide a network connection (Mini has released a special app) to services like Aupeo’s web radio, Twitter, Facebook and traffic information. All services are accessible via the Mini’s dashboard, and messages can be read using voice output. About a quarter of the approximately 260,000 minis sold in the next year will be equipped with Mini Connected. Aupeo is providing four customized channels for Mini drivers — from Mini Space (latest from the music blogs) to Mini Cross (head-banging rock).
Aupeo aims to provide a one-stop-shop for hardware vendors who need an Internet radio service. It licenses all the music and generates localized metadata for the database of approximately 1 million tracks. The recommendation system is from the Fraunhofer Institute, inventors of the MP3 format.
AUPEO! Basic includes personal, mood (such as energetic or melancholic) and artist stations and is ad-supported. AUPEO! Premium adds higher quality streaming, access to all the Aupeo stations and no ads. Hardware vendors do not not pay for the application. Instead, Aupeo generates revenue from advertising and premium services.
Aupeo was founded in 2008, has 20 employees and raised its first institutional round of funding from several German VC funds, including Ventegis Capital.