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What Happens to Radio when Technology Kills Mobile Phones?

There remains a drumbeat among some broadcasters to install FM radio into mobile phones, but what happens when some new technology kills off those mobile devices?

There is a line of thinking that the smartphone era will perish almost as quickly as it began.This is, after all, the natural way of technology. It’s defined by creative destruction. Just as the smartphone killed the flip phone, and the iPad is killing the traditional PC, something is going to come along and kill the smartphone. Wearable computers are widely believed to be the next computing fad.

The point here is that the power of technology and the benefits which accrue to that power will remain personal, but they will not necessarily be encased in the device until recently known as a “cell phone.”  Thus making the device the focus of our attention is missing the larger trend. Instead, we should be focusing on the context of technology and how that will interface with each consumer’s audio entertainment experience.

Today that technology may be in our pockets but tomorrow it could be on our wrists or built into our glasses or even embedded into our bodies.

Our goal should not be to “get FM into mobile phones” per se but to make the content compelling enough and ubiquitous across enough platforms that demand drives it into the devices of the consumers’ choosing. Because the context in which that content is needed never goes away and our content is never substituted with anything “better” because it’s just that darn good.

Already a vanishing device category, the notion of a “radio” per se will cease to exist. Radio content will live on, of course, with abundant new sources and forms, some more feature-filled and tech-powered than others.

Consider the new car dashboard.  There is no “radio” there – there’s now an entertainment console.  And “radio” per se is only one of the options.  What’s the best way to stand out in a much more crowded neighborhood?  By being that good and that essential and that fundamentally unmatchable.

The right content in the right context.  This is the key to radio’s future.

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