How the iPhone is changing radio forever.

Steve Jobs doesn't need an anti-satellite missile to knock out XM & Sirius

I’ve already written a bit about my thoughts on the iPhone and how it will kill Satellite radio and a review of the iPhone radio applications, but Doc Searls is writing today about his similar experiences using the iPhone as the radio interface in his car. He raises a number of interesting points including:

4) The cell phone system will become a data system that carries telephony, rather than the vice versa we have now. The same goes for the Net at home as well. What we still have in both cases is dial-up: data piggy-backing on telephony or cable TV. In terms of provider priorities, that’s the way it’s been for awhile, but the flip is going to come, and the sooner we all adjust to that, the better.

5) The iPhone is less a phone than a platform for mobile Internet applications that start with telephony. Voice will always be the primary personal mobile communications activity; but it will be one application, or set of applications, among many. Radio is another of those applications.

Radio has had a decade of on again off again experience with the Internet and streaming, but it’s just never caught on due in large part to the ‘tethered to the computer’ experience that was required. People simply weren’t about to replace their clock radios with a PC and Internet radio devices just never could get a hold into the market (despite a lot of us trying). And on top of that, it didn’t work in the car (where many people do their radio listening). In short, the radio stations had it easy because it was so hard to listen to the competition.

But that’s over. The iPhone changes EVERYTHING. Yea it’s not the first to do streaming, nor is it the fastest of cheapest platform, but it is the first MASS MARKET adaptation of Internet radio to the car and other places that we’ve seen. You take all the Internet radio devices sold from when I came up with the idea nearly 10 years ago to now and you have less than the number of people who downloaded the Pandora radio application for the iPhone in the first six days. There are now nearly 4 million iPhones out there in the last year, with some of the free radio applications being the top downloads. It took XM six years to get to that number of subscribers. Who do you think is going to win the race for a listeners’ ears?

Quite simply, radio stations who are not paying attention will be radio stations who are out of business in the next five to ten years.


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