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What might the Apple tablet mean to online radio?

Posted on: 01/25/2010

As you probably know, Apple is making a major product announcement on Wednesday that most knowledgeable observers expect to be a tablet-type device (possibly called the iTablet or iSlate or iSlab or something like that).

You can kind of think of it as a large-format iPhone that would directly and obviously compete with Amazon’s Kindle, but for many people might replace their need for a laptop or netbook computer as their on-the-road or in-the-coffeeshop device.

(Concept photo above from the U.K. website Pocket-Lint.com (here).)

Although it’s not expected to be in stores until March or April, some observers are suggesting that if Apple’s new device is successful, it could be a game-changing event for various industries including book publishing, newspapers, and more.

But what might it mean to online radio?

One exciting development for online radio of the iPhone is how it’s turned out to be such a great modern-era version of a “transistor radio.” The form factor (i.e., size) is perfect, and the design discipline required to build an iPhone app has resulted in user interfaces for many Internet radio brands to often be much better than their original (website) interfaces.

Result: Huge amounts of iPhone listening for some webcasters. (As we saw in last week’s Webcast Metrics release, Pandora’s iPhone app has increased their AQH audience size by almost 50%!)

But there are some limitations to Internet radio listening on an iPhone that may go away on the Apple tablet, making it an even stronger platform for webcasters.

For example, the iPhone currently doesn’t allow multitasking (at least when it comes to non-Apple-created apps). So if you’re reading a book on your iPhone using Amazon’s Kindle app for the iPhone, you can’t concurrently listen to the radio using the Pandora or IHeartRadio app. This limitation may disappear on the Apple tablet.

Also, Apple doesn’t currently support Flash on the iPhone, which is why hardly any Internet radio websites function properly on the iPhone. (You can typically launch a player, but the player won’t play.) Depending on the operating system used by the tablet, this limitation may also go away — meaning that consumers won’t necessarily have to download an app for each station/brand they want to listen to.

At any rate, we’ll know more on Wednesday and probably then have a month or two to prepare for its arrival.

Please stand by.

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  1. Kurt,

    A good read. I hope to see some multitasking abilities in the next iPhone update and am crossing my fingers!

    I’d like to point out that some webstreamers have capitalized on the fact Safari is able to run while an app is running. Many of us have developed “WebApps” in accordance with Apple’s WebApp standards to let our listeners stream us while using native apps.

    Anthony Ares

    Anthony Ares · Jan 25, 01:59 PM · #

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