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NAB Labs Senses “Tipping Point” on Chips

But as Pizzi writes in blog post, the situation remains fluid

Keeping an eye on FM chip developments, the tech folks over at the National Association of Broadcasters sense a “significant tipping point in the FM-activation battle,” with the majority of U.S. wireless providers supporting activation of receivers in their smartphones.

On the other hand, one top-selling smartphone is using a new connectivity chip that does not include an FM radio receiver, something to keep an eye on.

So writes Skip Pizzi in the NAB Labs Broadcast Blog. NAB is a supporter of the NextRadio initiative; and the association has lobbied more generally for wireless carriers and handset manufacturers to incorporate FM capability in their devices.

Pizzi summarized recent successes, which RW has reported, including news about AT&T Wireless and T-Mobile. He cogently explains why recent developments should bear significant further fruit, but also concludes that “while the numbers are improving and alliances are growing, the situation remains fluid, and the battle to activate FM in smartphones will continue on two fronts.” He considers the challenges of snagging carrier Verizon and manufacturer Apple, whose iPhones account for half of the smartphone market’s sales by units. “… Apple’s strategy seems to be based consistently on the premise that if the device can be network-connected, it shall have no working FM radio.”

The popular phone with no FM capability, active or otherwise, is the Motorola Droid Turbo, sold through Verizon. It uses a Qualcomm Atheros QCA6164 chip for its WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. “If this departure from common practice becomes a trend, the climb toward activating FM in most smartphones could become steeper, moving from simply activating hardware already on board to requiring installation of additional hardware,” Pizzi wrote.