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Pandora Has a Choice: Live or Die

Stocks in this article: P AAPL BBRY MSFT LVY CMLS

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Over the last several months, I have shifted gears on Pandora (P).

When the stock was toiling in the single digits, it was the time to tell the Pandora story nobody understood. Now that the thing has nearly quadrupled, what benefit is there for any of us to merely sing the company's praises?

It's an interesting aside, however, to consider how resilient P has become. Recall, back in the day, it gyrated wildly on every mention of Apple's (AAPL) iTunes Radio or any hint at more competition. Now, it announces a secondary offering, drops only temporarily and proceeds to shoot up another few percent to all-time highs.

Anyway, I have had requests (which, if I'm honest with you, means like one) to condense some of the more critical points I have made on Pandora into one article.

You can search my article history to find pieces that expand on each idea.

At this point, I'm of two minds on Pandora.

At it's strongest point ever, the company has, interestingly, never been more vulnerable.

But isn't that how it often works?

At its peak, who thought BlackBerry (BBRY) would completely self-destruct? And not enough people seriously acknowledge the notion of Microsoft (MSFT) losing to Apple (and others) in every area from the living room to the enterprise.

Even without the emergence of iTunes Radio, Pandora operates at a critical juncture. The company must challenge itself or risk watching much of what it has built over the last decade slip away. It's never been about the quantity of competition it faces -- Pandora continues to persist -- it's about the increasing quality.

And I'm not talking about iTunes Radio. Apple has lots of work to do. It's idea of personalized radio, at this stage, appears to be little more than providing covers of songs originally performed by your favorites. As expected, even in discovery mode, iTunes Radio cannot live up to the intuitive precision of Pandora's Music Genome Project, particularly once it gets to know you well.

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