The coming wireless Internet radio boom

In the buried lead department, from Bridge Ratings:

48% of those accessing the Internet via wireless technology seek out Internet radio. The number of Internet radio listeners accessing wirelessly will grow to 77 million by 2010 as wireless technology penetrates the average U.S. lifestyle.

“Wireless” Internet radio is another name for…radio.

“Wireless technology” represents not only the WiFi connection on your PC but also – increasingly – your mobile phone, your sixth-generation iPod (just wait), even your portable satellite radio – if it’s equipped with WiFi.

Bridge is projecting that almost 80 million folks will get at least some of their “radio” need satisfied by “radio-like” content coming to them across numerous distribution channels which are primarily modified versions of the very items they carry today: Your PC, your mobile phone, your WiPod, your XM/Sirius Net Radio – even your new Internet-equipped car “radio.”

As Bridge unsurprisingly states:

The more time spent using wireless technology to access the Internet, the less time spent with traditional AM/FM radio.

Here is one primary consequence for you and the radio industry:

There are two places worth being in the future: The business of content – the unique and compelling kind. And the business of distribution – the wider the better.

Some of the smarter groups are already experimenting with deals in these non-radio channels. Look for these deals to multiply. Further, look for players to get into the radio “game” who have no history here. To the degree that you simply need to hire a handful of program directors to create a broad menu of music-only channels, radio – on a national level – becomes easy for any company which has the distribution – and that means lots of competition which will quickly turn weaker radio brands into commodities.

And where should you NOT be?

You should not be putting all your eggs in the basket of any one technology (including over-the-air radio, by the way), especially if that technology has no significant distribution (you know what I’m talking about, but I already wrote my one post of the week on that topic).

And you should not be in the business of pumping out tunes with no distinction and no added value. You should not, in other words, be in the business of creating a weak all-music brandless brand.

Of course, you’ll see these challenges first from the younger end of the audience.

And no, they will not grow out of it.

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