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First Phones With FM Are Gateway to More Sprint Models

Carrier touts interactivity, battery life of new HTC smartphones and offering special promotions to jump-start sales

Sprint and Emmis say the two new model smartphones that feature FM capability are just the beginning. The carrier’s deal with Emmis on behalf of the radio industry to offer the NextRadio interactive FM app on the HTC One and HTC EVO 4G LTE will allow Sprint to provide NextRadio service on a “broad range” of smartphones over the next several years.

Indeed, Emmis Chair/CEO Jeff Smulyan tells Radio World, “This is the just the first phone,” saying there will be others.

The phone is a breakthrough product for the radio industry for several reasons, says Smulyan, but especially because of the interactive features. Radio finally has a backchannel through which listeners can share photos, for example, or make purchases. He promises there’ll see some “fun” things from Sprint regarding future promotion of the phone as well.

NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith echoed the sentiment, calling Sprint an “innovative” carrier that’s “leading the effort to offer American consumers something they’ve always loved — listening to the radio — right in the palm of their hands.”

NextRadio is a free app that will come preloaded on HTC One for all new activations, according to Sprint. The carrier tells customers the app consumes about three times less battery life than other music apps because the audio “is coming through a built-in FM tuner instead of over the Internet.”

The majority of consumers will experience FM on new phones they purchase, Smulyan believes, however customers who already have HTC One or HTC EVO 4G LTE from Sprint can download the app through Google Play for free.

The phone currently comes in silver and black. Sprint is offering a new red HTC to be available in Sprint stores, business sales, telesales and online for just under $200 with a new two-year service agreement or eligible upgrade.

From Aug 16–30, Sprint customers can buy one HTC One with interactive FM radio from NextRadio and get a second one free, while supplies last.

While customers already enjoy listening to several music apps on their smartphones, NextRadio makes it easier to interact with “the local radio stations they enjoy listening to in the car virtually anywhere,” said Fared Adib, senior vice president for Product Development, Sprint. He says consumers can use the phone to interact with radio shows by calling messaging directly from their smartphone.

A headset or speaker wire plugged into the audio jack serves as the antenna for the FM chip. Customers will find a station from the NextRadio onscreen guide.

With NextRadio listeners can browse local stations by genre or frequency, set favorites, view recently played stations or use what Sprint calls “a traditional tuner interface.” In addition to call letters, listeners will see album art, station logos, song titles and show details.

Sprint to Launch Smartphones With FM Capability Aug. 16