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Apple’s Patent: Welcome Attention or Death Knell?

Paul McLane is editor in chief.

The news about an Apple patent that involves radio is intriguing.

As we’ve reported on our website, the company just received a patent for “seamless switching between radio and local media.” This raises a host of possibilities; and one of the most obvious is that it presumably will make it easier for consumers to avoid commercials, and that presumably is a bad thing for the traditional revenue-based radio model (sample headline this morning: “New Apple Patent Could Kill Commercial Radio”).

But before we hyperventilate, the news could also be seen as positive. Radio advocates have long urged Apple to incorporate radio into its products more widely. Here we see Apple giving signs that it is thinking about how radio fits into media products, and how to better integrate it. This development could imply broader interest on the part of Apple in incorporating radio functionality more widely.

Yet again, reading patent tea leaves always is a dangerous hobby, and companies often file patents that do not directly result in products. Some early chatter is that Apple could “transform” radio with this. I am always leery of such reactions. There is much to ponder here. We’ll watch with interest to see what Apple, and industry observers, have to say about this.