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RAIN 7/15: Experts debate whether iPhone is the future, or the end of radio

Posted on: 07/15/2008

WILL iPHONE’S WEBCAST CAPABILITIES CHALLENGE OR ENHANCE RADIO?: Internet radio applications were amongst the most popular of the 10 million iPhone programs downloaded over the weekend, prompting observers to debate whether the webcast-receiving iPhones foretell the death of broadcast radio, or rather usher it into a new era. Entertainment journalist Jeff Jarvis, after testing out his new Pandora-enabled iPhone, declares (here) “that radio is doomed…Pandora is a wonder, creating my own radio station, live and on the fly without need for a broadcast tower.” Mark Hopkins in a post at Mashable (here) agrees, though he argues that costs must be lowered before iPhone-like devices become a viable competitor to traditional radio receivers. However, David Martin says (here) broadcast radio will not fall to the iPhone’s mobile Internet radio, rather benefit from it. He points out that users listening to AOL Radio (at one point the 7th most frequently downloaded iPhone application) “are enjoying broadcast radio content on another platform. This marks not the end of broadcast but a beginning, access of broadcast content via another media.” Mark Ramsey weighs in on the matter as well (here), arguing that even though users can tune into any broadcast radio station worldwide, they will probably not tune into those stations more than once, staying rather with their local stations—which they can already get on their regular radio receivers. “If we’re going to be presenting content online, we need to present that which listeners can’t get elsewhere, including our own air…We need to present content that is original to the web, not simply a repurpose of our terrestrial stations.”

MORE RADIO APPS, BROADCASTERS CLAIM SPACE ON THE iPHONE: Yet another Internet radio application is available for the iPhone: VisuaMobile’s allRadio, a station aggregator which also displays if you are using WiFi or the Edge network and at what bit-rate. The application boasts more than 2000 stations from over 10 countries sorted by genre. allRadio costs $3.99 from the Apple App Store. Additionally, Greater Media announced (here) its New Jersey, Charlotte, and Detroit radio stations are streaming via the iPhone. Not a stand-alone application, Greater Media streams are accessed through the iPhone’s Safari web browser. Pandora, Virgin Radio, AOL Radio, and Last.fm also have iPhone applications (RAIN coverage here and here).

ARTISTS SHOULD SUPPORT SAT MERGER BECAUSE OF PERFORMANCE ROYALTIES, SAYS DEPARTING XM EXEC: Pointing out that satellite radio is the “largest single contributor of performance royalties,” XM executive vice president for programming Eric Logan reasons artists should support the merger between XM and Sirius. A merger would result in more programming as well as lower prices, says Logan, and more programming means more music played—especially for niche genres like country, which he claims are receiving less playtime on broadcast radio. “The merger of the two companies is necessary if satellite radio is to continue as a vital outlet…A healthy satellite industry will continue paying artists and labels millions in performance royalties while promoting their music nationwide.” Read his full article here.

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  1. Mark Ramsey is correct. Terrestrial radio listening isn’t down because it isn’t available on the net, its down because there is and ever-growing list different things to choose instead – on the net and elsewhere.

    Radio needs to leverage its considerable programming talent and create content for the web, rather than rely on existing terrestrial streams distributed digitally.

    FWIW, I think it’s a good idea for terrestrial stations to stream those signals, but a bad idea to consider doing so a key basis of a digital strategy.

    Bob Bellin · Jul 15, 07:32 AM · #

  2. Yea I don’t think you can consider the Iphone as anything other than a mechanism that enhances growth for broadcasting’s future. Remember also not everyone in the world will have an Iphone. Not to mention that many competitors are catching up with their own solutions or devices. Streaming to most “any” compatable mobile device is a key component in the growth of webcasting for sure and certainly Iphone users are an important portion of the many that will consume streaming media via moile devices.

    Also, let’s not forget that way before the Iphone even exsisted streaming was already possible via many mobile devices and or applications. My ppc 6700 is almost 3 years old and I have personally used it on many occassions over those years to tune into multitudes of streaming broadcasts, both audio and video. So I find it comical to single out one specific mobile device as being even a contributor, much less the single reason for the end of Radio.

    Interestingly enough CNN produced a poll last week to deteremine how many of the respondants where actually planning on moving up to the new 3G Iphone and 73% polled stated they had NO intention to update or purchase one any time soon.

    Now I will say that what is most likley the end of Radio as we know it today is NOT specifically technology itself but the lack of embracing it and the past hesitancy to adopt it. Plus certainly add programming, or lack of and the “business as usual” mindset of the industry. That, I believe is why traditional radio is where it is today and why it’s current future is in jeopardy. The rules are changing because it is what the consumer wants and for the current Radio industry to survive they best listen to the consumer.

    Bryan Payne · Jul 15, 08:51 AM · #

  3. May I mention that the criticism of Satellite XM/Sirius has always hinged upon market placement of receivers, and broadcast radio listenership today being less will only hint at the flip flop after 02/09 when no one but sat and Phone/net people have working radios !!! THEN broadcast radio listenership will be down. And the FIRST answer to address will be to get digital capable receivers in the hands of the people.

    Frank Baum

    Frank Baum · Jul 18, 10:28 AM · #

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