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Researchers Find Encouragement in Nano FM Feature Survey

Pause function is of interest to two-thirds of younger American respondents

Research firm Vision Critical did an online survey of 2,768 adults in the United States, the U.K. and Canada to see what consumers, especially young adults, are thinking about the addition of an FM tuner to Apple’s iPod Nano. The findings give us a general sense of confirmation that the presence of a tuner in an Apple personal audio product can be good news for radio but is far from a magic bullet to restore radio’s preeminence in the minds of consumers.

The research company concludes that the new Nano will put FM into the hands of more people in more places, and most importantly “into the hands of younger demographics where radio’s distribution advantage is already fading,” but just because the device has FM doesn’t mean consumers will use it.

Vision Critical headlined its results by saying the new Nano “gives radio a second chance among younger listeners.” Specifically, it said two-thirds of Americans in the 18–34 age group show an active interest in the pause and rewind feature of the FM tuner, which is a big selling point (or so radio folks hope) in the recently announced Nano.

“The interactive features of the FM tuner in Apple’s new iPod Nano show potential to energize interest among younger demographics who are the heaviest users of MP3 players,” the research firm stated.

When respondents were told about the specific features of the tuner, 47% of Americans 18 and older say they are “very interested” in the ability to pause and rewind songs they hear on the radio, which rises to 66% among 18–34.

“The opportunity to see the name of the song using the Nano’s RDS display also has strong appeal,” Vision Critical continued. “In all, 41% of Americans and 55% of 18-34 year-olds express an active interest in this feature. Consumers show somewhat less interest in the ability to ‘tag’ songs for future purchase. Twenty-eight percent (28%) of Americans aged 18 and older are ‘very interested’ in this feature, but this increases to 45% of 18–34 year olds.”

Of five features in the new Ipod Nano that were presented in the survey, American adults ranked an FM tuner third in terms of overall interest; they showed greater active interest in the larger display screen and new video camera. “Interest in an FM tuner is however well above the active interest expressed in the voice recorder and the pedometer.”

In conclusion, the company said, “Though many potential buyers of the new Nano are interested in an FM tuner, others will see it as just another add-on feature to what is essentially a device for listening to their personal music collection. Results from the parallel U.K. survey reinforce the limited impact on tuning when an FM tuner on its own is just one of many features — though 50% of British adults report having a mobile or smartphone that plays FM stations, only 4% of those with FM-enabled mobile phones say they listen to FM daily on their phone.”

Vision Critical also finds that the interactive features “will be most beneficial to stations that play to FM radio’s ‘discovery’ advantage. The pause and rewind, song display and song tagging features all will be most effective for stations that focus on playing new or otherwise undiscovered music, especially if they target younger demos.”