FM Chips Ahoy

Lance's Line RadioInsight Blog

Emmis FM Chip Sprint HTC Nextradio App TunerBased on the amount of press releases that have been released today, you’d think some groundbreaking technological advancement had been made. Instead it was just an app that many in the radio industry are banking on as being necessary for their survival.

While it is imperative that the radio industry does something, anything to remain relevant as we continue to move into a new digital era, lets put a few things in perspective. The new NextRadio app works on a pair of devices manufactured by HTC that operate the Android OS on the Sprint network. It’s a start, but since its announcement in January no other manufacturer or cellular network have come on-board.

As of April 2013, Android had a 52% share of the United States mobile market already leaving 48% of possible users in the dark as Apple has shown no interest in adding access an FM receiver and Windows Phone and Blackberry are in use by less than 10% of the smartphone market combined though releases for those devices are planned. HTC, the manufacturer of the two models supporting the app, has 8.9% user share but has been struggling after the disastrous release of the HTC First, or “Facebook Phone” earlier this year. Sprint lost 2 million subscribers this quarter from the shutdown of its Nextel iDen frequencies, leaving it with 17% of American mobile users, but with a higher amount of prepaid users than AT&T and Verizon.

So an industry being torn apart from staff cuts and new competition for their audiences took the only partners willing to join them in Sprint and HTC while giving up millions of dollars in advertising to Sprint in order to make it happen. All in the name of attempting to stay relevant.

Interestingly two major players were missing from Emmis’ announcement of companies partnering for additional services from the app through their TagStation platform. While Beasley, CBS Radio, Entercom, Greater Media and Hubbard are mentioned there’s no sign of Clear Channel and Cumulus. Clear Channel is putting all their digital initiatives through their iHeartRadio streaming platform and Cumulus has made iHeart its exclusive mobile streaming provider.

As for the app itself, when your key features are saving data and battery life where is the coolness factor that will get people talking about it? A guide is nice and all but when there’s no programming that people are going out of their way to access what does it add?

The launch of NextRadio is eerily similar to the marketing of HD Radio over the past decade. A few manufacturers on board, an industry marketing push, and no content of value. And now over a decade later what kind of marketshare has HD Radio received?

Good luck to the companies that are expecting NextRadio to change radio’s destiny against streaming and the digital revolution, but unless a lot of things change in their favor this isn’t going to make a dent.

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