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Here’s Where Built-In Radio on Mobile Phones Would Win Big


Earlier this week I provided data and an argument to show why the NextRadio campaign to add an FM chip to mobile phones in the U.S. will be fruitless. But I hinted at an international scenario which might make much more sense for a form of this technology.

Show me a market where everyone has mobile phones but not radios, and I’ll show you a market made for radios built into mobile phones.

So it is in many areas of the world where radios and the plugged-in electricity which drives them are scarce. Yet even in these remote regions people are connected by mobile phones. These are generally not smart-phones, of course, but the beauty of radio is that its fundamental functionality doesn’t require a “smart” device. And if we try to make that fundamental functionality too “smart” in an environment that doesn’t demand it, we may bypass a pretty sizable opportunity.

In one rural area of India, for example, there’s a radio service called Kan Khajura Tesan which is a work-around to the fact that while everyone seems to own a mobile phone, there’s no radio built in and no electricity easily accessible throughout the day.

Users simply phone the memorable 1800 3000 0123 number on their device and hang up after it’s connected. The radio will then phone them back and listeners will have access to free entertainment for as long as they stay on the line. The station is funded by advertisements and, according to [the station’s owners], the project has already reached 11 million subscribers.

That’s right, folks are dialing up the radio they can’t get any other way on the devices which they actually use.

Sounds like an opportunity for built-in radio to me. Save the dialing – we’re always on!

Watch this video which explains the whole thing:

Keep in mind one other fact: Since dialing up your radio is an “active” action, you are surrendering data and “registering” for the service. So when we say the service has 11 million listeners, that means the station knows the phone number of all 11 million people. Consider those marketing consequences, apart from any audio advertising!

It also speaks to the inherently compelling nature of audio entertainment in general and radio in particular, doesn’t it?

So show me a market where everyone has mobile phones but not radios, and I’ll show you a market made for radios built into mobile phones.

By contrast, show me a market where everyone has radios in their homes, at work, and in their cars, and apps for radio content and terrestrial radio alternatives on their mobile phones, and I’ll show you a market that seeks out great content across platforms – wherever they want to consume it – a market that isn’t holding their collective breath for FM on their mobile device.

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