11/16

An FM Chip in a Mobile Phone isn’t “Me”

Will FM radio ever end up pre-installed in mobile phones in the US?

I doubt it, because consumers aren’t asking for radio to be built into their mobile phones (and here’s a full overview of the issue).

But what’s more interesting to me is that radio industry leaders keep driving for this, obsessively wishing and hoping and planning for it.

Why is that more interesting to me?  Because it’s not only deaf to what consumers are asking for, it’s blind to the direction of consumer trends.

Consider these facts:

Major broadcasters are pushing a strategy to implant FM chips in mobile phones.  That is, they are trying to install radio in its conventional form in more devices.

Consumers are doing quite the opposite, however.  Rather than bringing more of your media channels to their devices they are bringing more of themselves to those devices.

What is “the cloud,” after all, but a means of syncing oneself in more places with ease?  The cloud is about moving “me” to more places, not moving you and your stations to those places.

The trend is more of “me” everywhere.

You only go with me when you are tailored to me.

As John Frost wrote in this blog yesterday, that’s what my phone is:  Me.

Now, you might say, if I love a station I may want it on my device because that station, too, is “me.”

Okay.  But while a station may be “me” the entire FM radio band is not “me.”

And if a station is “me” then I will want to get deep into my experience with that station, not just the linear audio feed. And that experience is probably an app, which includes a stream and social media and audio downloads and photos and videos and more.

So the challenge is not getting FM chips in mobile phones, it’s making your station so “me” that it goes where I go and it syncs where I sync.

That’s tougher than installing FM radio chips in more places, but it’s on-trend with our consumers.

Even if it’s off-trend with radio bosses.

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  • Martin

    It will certainly not complete with customized options, but I’d be surprised if the ‘player’ wouldn’t bring along experiences similar (and hopefully way better…) to what’s being offered by streaming app providers today.  That might be bad news for app developers, streaming providers, and audio ad-insertion platforms, but I don’t see why consumers wouldn’t find such an option interesting.      

  • http://www.radioparadise.com Bill Goldsmith

    Very true. Actually FM radio does come preinstalled on a lot of Android smartphones. My current phone — a Verizon HTC Thunderbolt — has a surprisingly good FM tuner built in. You never hear about that because most people never bother to use it. I’m a radio geek of the most extreme variety (fascinated with radio since I was 2, and a 30+ year industry veteran) and I’ve used it exactly twice. 

    Only one thing will allow today’s industry players to compete in tomorrow’s media landscape: better programming. It is laughable to think that the industry can continue to cut costs and replace original local programming with cookie-cutter national formats and voicetracking, and then remain competitive by forcing handset manufacturers to include FM tuners. Laughable and tragic — if you truly give a damn about this business, anyway.

    -Bill Goldsmith
    http://www.radioparadise.com

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    Yes, yes. Make the content great and benefit from “pull” rather than praying for “push.”
    Mark Ramsey

  • Smvov

    My understanding is that smartphones DO have FM apps available, some are already built in, so I don’t undertstand this. Why is this an issue? Besides, can’t they just connect to the stations on-line stream? Please, educate me.

  • Pingback: FM Chip is NOT an Alternative to Digital Strategy — It’s a PARALLEL STRATEGY « Future of Radio Online

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    The issue is not apps, it’s a built-in FM receiver. As you know, most devices in the US lack that.

    But your confusion is telling, and it’s a point I’ve been making for ages. If you have radio apps, you have radio. You don’t need a tuner.

  • Smith

    Mark it’s either a lack of understanding, ignorance, arrogance, or an unwillingness to embrace technology consumers want. With free apps like tuneineradio most cell phones already  receive streamed FM & AM content. Frankly, having FM on board isn’t a deal maker or deal breaker for any cell phone buyers. But lacking an mp3 player, web access or good camera could be. 

  • Greg

    There are a number of cell phones with FM chips installed, so there must be some demand. Let the marketplace decide. With the NAB pushing this effort, and many of them as investors in iBiquity… well, you know what I mean.

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    You bet, Greg.

    BTW, the marketplace has already spoken :-)

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  • PaulG

    Very well said Mark.  On facebook now you search for your favorite artists and in many cases you see songs pop up from those artists with a Spotify play button – brilliant!

  • Bernard Caron

    Why would you want to spend money (or the spectrum) on the data you need for streaming a local FM station when you can just pick it up from the air for free ?

    What happen if your lose your data connection in time of disaster or during an emergency ?  Would it not be nice to get information from an FM radio on your phone ? 

    I wonder if Mark has already remove the FM radio from his car ? 

    Keeping or adding FM radio on a cell phone does not stop anyone from listening to streamed radio.  But it is very nice to have when you really need it.  So why not ?

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    Hi Bernard, I’ll take your questions in turn…

    1. I’d want to do that because the station I’m downloading isn’t a local one, or it’s not a mirror image of the ones on the air, or I’d want to do it if for some reason my radio couldn’t get the station where I wanted to listen to it.
    2. You can justify any argument by taking the conditions of that argument to the extreme. For example, what would happen to you if you were taking a bath and your blow drier was on and fell into the bath? What would happen if you bought a new house the day before Armageddon? Consumers don’t function according to what is and isn’t “nice,” they function according to what they want. The marketplace speaks loudly.
    3. Not sure why I would remove the FM radio from my car. Don’t get your point there.
    4. There is no answer to “why not?” However you can justify adding ANYTHING to ANY device if your metric of action is “why not?” Why not add a radio to your trash container – that way you can listen to the radio whenever you take out the trash? Why not add a telephone to the toilet seat since it would be nice to use the phone when you’re seated?
    This isn’t about what’s nice to have or nice in an emergency. It’s about what consumers want and what they will use.

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    Hi Bernard, I’ll take your questions in turn…

    1. I’d want to do that because the station I’m downloading isn’t a local one, or it’s not a mirror image of the ones on the air, or I’d want to do it if for some reason my radio couldn’t get the station where I wanted to listen to it.

    2. You can justify any argument by taking the conditions of that argument to the extreme. For example, what would happen to you if you were taking a bath and your blow drier was on and fell into the bath? What would happen if you bought a new house the day before Armageddon? Consumers don’t function according to what is and isn’t “nice,” they function according to what they want. The marketplace speaks loudly.

    3. Not sure why I would remove the FM radio from my car. Don’t get your point there.

    4. There is no answer to “why not?” However you can justify adding ANYTHING to ANY device if your metric of action is “why not?” Why not add a radio to your trash container – that way you can listen to the radio whenever you take out the trash? Why not add a telephone to the toilet seat since it would be nice to use the phone when you’re seated?

    This isn’t about what’s nice to have or nice in an emergency. It’s about what consumers want and what they will use.