If HD Radio WERE On The iPhone

Written Jun. 18, 2010 by Sean Ross in Content + HD Radio + Mobile Media + Technology with 1 Comment

First of all, don't get too excited about the press reports that Apple has applied for a patent to include HD radio technology in future iPods and iPhones. As iN3 Partners' Robert Unmacht points out, "This in no way means they will do it. Tech companies file for many things to protect themselves and never use it. There are power issues (the chip is a bit of a hog), space issues, and always cost issues."

But do ask yourself, what would broadcasters do if HD radio were available on the iPhone (or iPod or iPad)?

Many broadcasters think that being on the iPhone (or any smart phone) will automatically bring them greater engagement from younger listeners, simply by being on their platform of choice. But are broadcasters willing or prepared to engage with younger listeners? Are they going to offer them a second format choice for current music? Or will they continue to hope that 12-24s make do with two Top 40s and other formats (particularly Rock and Country) that play youth-oriented music sparingly?

Are broadcasters' HD multicast channels going to be ready for their close-up? It makes sense that we've moved from throwaway locally programmed channels to national ones. But many of those national stations are repurposed content and very few truly take advantage of the "WLS/CKLW national radio station for our times" potential of having a national radio station. So far, the only way to get a broadcaster to show a lot of interest in their multicast channel is to give them a translator (and thus a new FM frequency in the market) to relay it to.

Can multicast channels be rethought to provide the sort of services that smart phone users are looking for? Some have long thought that HD radio's ultimate function would be as a data provider. Can multicast channels, if available on a smart phone, be used to protect radio's current traffic and weather franchises?

Finally, are broadcasters going to take any more advantage of being on an iPhone (or any other phone) than they do of being available on the iPod Nano? Radio was very excited about being allowed a place on an iPod of any sort. But it was hard, at least at the outset, to find broadcasters who had engaged with radio on the Nano in any way (including using it much themselves). And have you heard anything about the Nano or song tagging in the last six months?

Reader Comments

Your 2¢, in chronological order — add your comment below.
1  Greg on June 24, 2010 10:13 AM

Here's Apple Insider's quote:

"Apple Insider says the concept could allow Apple devices to go beyond FM with an HD Radio tuner, allowing full integration with HD Radio"

Here's the quote from the patent:

"An accessory having an RF tuner for digital radio, such as HD radio, can be in communication with a media player such as a portable media device ("PMD"). The user can be given the ability to command the accessory to provide raw digital data, the ability to scan only for stations having digital audio content."

The title of the patent speaks of an accessory. At least Mary Ramsey called it correctly, by pointed out there is nothing in the patent that implies direct inclusion of HD Radio, but just the opposite.

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