09/19

Radio’s Problem After the iPhone 7

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Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you know that Apple released its latest iPhone last week, and the announcement came with all the usual pomp and publicity.

But what does the iPhone 7 mean if you’re working in the radio industry?

The key thing is the much noted removal of the 3.5mm Earbud jack, an output device that – until now – has been ubiquitous.

Sure, Apple will provide a Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter in the box along with some standard Earbuds with a Lightning connector, but anyone who is buying Apple products in part for their design style (which is virtually 100% of their market) will ultimately shun (or lose) any adapter and graduate either to Lightning Earbuds or – more likely – to wireless Bluetooth Earbuds like Apple’s “AirPods.”

And that has consequences for radio, folks.

Because what Apple is really signaling is the end of wires. And it’s very likely that other device makers and the consumers who choose between them will fall in line and follow suit. Because let’s face it, we all hate wires.

While it won’t happen all at once, you can say goodbye to wires, folks. Both for listening and soon for charging.

But here’s a problem for radio:

Wires are necessary for the clunky gadget produced by Nielsen which connects Earbuds to your mobile device for that incredibly tiny fraction of radio listeners who actually comply with Nielsen’s request to use it (note to Nielsen: Asking modern mobile phone users who take pride in their cool new devices to attach your ugly intermediary is like outfitting someone in a finely tailored suit and finishing it off with a Hawaiian shirt).

So if you ever thought you were getting PPM numbers from mobile devices before, you can forget about getting them in the future, no matter how much listening transitions there.

Meanwhile, for those of you obsessed with NextRadio, wires are also necessary for the proper functioning of that technology, much talked about in radio circles but largely ignored among real consumers.

The solution for broadcasters targeting digital audiences is to find those audiences where they want to be: Streaming and listening on demand.

The solution for ratings is to use metrics which are census-based rather than sample-based – to use so-called “big data” rather than the herky, jerky small data provided by too few PPM devices in too few households.

Radio was born without wires.

The future of radio is likewise wireless.

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