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Apple, Testing the Waters

RW Blog: FM on the nano is good news; but Apple no doubt will be watching what comes next

An iPod nano with FM radio in it is welcome news, and you could hear the eager reaction all over the industry this week.

Radio big-shots have been pushing for months — years — to get radio reception into mobile devices (though having said this, it still feels to me like radio’s concerted effort to do so started much later than it should have).

Apple is the big football player at the personal audio sorority party, so by finally snagging a date with it, radio has made a welcome advance. And the ability to “pause” the reception and not miss content is truly exciting.

Now the next year or so is important. I suspect that Apple, having been prodded by NAB and others to remember radio when designing products, will be gauging interest and reaction to that feature of the latest nano, to see if radio is something consumers care anything about in their players/cameras/personal-everything gizmos. Meanwhile, hopefully this news will also help prompt cellphone makers to do additional thinking about radio too.

Separately, as I’ve been noting in my print column and elsewhere, AM broadcasters should be very concerned about trends toward FM-only radio in personal audio devices, and they should be screaming right now to anyone who listens: “What about us?” Plenty of AMs have hollered at RW this month for asking questions in print recently about the relevance of AM. Fair enough; but they would do well also to raise their voices to NAB and to consumer companies to remember during design planning that the AM band also exists and is pertinent. Users of the new iPod nano would have little reason to think so.