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  Daily news and commentary on the key issues involving radio and the Internet Link to previous issue    
Happy Thanksgiving! RAIN's next scheduled publication date is Monday, November 26.

Headline: "Broadcasters, phone carriers share blame for radio's 3G stumbles"
From a commentary piece in Radio World Online: "Three years ago, the hot buzzword in media was 'convergence'...

"While the promised convergence has taken place to an extent, it certainly hasn’t expanded the platform for broadcast radio. This is puzzling because IP radio, even over a 3G network, can deliver world-class audio better than most iPod downloads or even IBOC feeds.

"So why hasn’t broadcast radio, the largest audio content provider in the United States, taken advantage of the opportunity to expand its platform?..

"According to the major carriers expanding their 3G networks, the 3G phones are flying off the shelf, far outselling HD Radios. 70% of all the new cars being sold in 2007 have auxiliary audio input capability, including everyday Fords, Chevys, Dodges, Hondas and Toyotas. Internet radio listenership in the work environment has skyrocketed, so the ability of audiences to continue to listen to their favorite stations while commuting home should be a given.

"Why aren’t people listening to their favorite broadcast stations on their mobile phones?.. It should be happening but it isn’t, the primary reason being poor audio quality. With regard to 3G mobile streaming, there is a total lack of promotion on the part of the carriers and the streamers themselves...

The problem with audio quality
"Major-market broadcast group CEOs announce they have an Internet strategy, yet their streaming audio quality is just awful. How can one have a strategy that doesn’t have a viable product? Savvy broadcasters use their audio stream to further promote their overall product...

"The strategy of most broadcasters is to use a codec that reaches the most players... then they make sure that they can reach dialup clients as well, so they cut the combined audio and data bit rate to 40 kbps or less... Some stations even stream in mono!..

"This sounds bad on PC speakers and worse on cell phones... but corporate strategy is to minimize cost while bringing in residual revenue, using the stream as a promotional tool for the station instead of making it a viable product that can generate self-supporting revenue... Broadcasters are not promoting their stations by sounding bad. The revenue will never do more than 'cover cost.'..

"These days, people without broadband aren’t interested in streaming or they’d have more than a dialup. People who listen to the Internet don’t mind getting the player that will get them the quality stations they want...

"With WiFi, WiMax, 3G, IP and more, Internet radio can deliver what HD Radio promises, but with millions of receivers already on the market. Internet radio is radio with no geographic limits — radio that can be taken anywhere there is Internet service. For many small- and medium-market broadcasters who are balking at the HD fees, Internet radio could be seen as an HD alternative as long as it delivers HD or better quality.

The iPhone may spur innovation
"Phone carriers don’t want netcasters to stream. The carriers want their customers to buy content at a premium and at the carriers’ convenience... That is where carriers want the business and that is where they point the promotion.

"The reason is simple: bandwidth...

"The real mind-boggler is this: The streams and live content that carriers promote not only sound horrible but use some of the most inefficient codecs on the market today... Again, the potential for quality is there; it is just not being addressed... Surprising also is that this is really limited to the United States, which points to the real problem regarding 3G media services...

"People are too busy using their phones for photos, texting and calls to be using them for entertainment. That is what they have their iPods for... Unless the user knows some really good stations, the iPod is going to win the quality war...

"That being said, we now have the promise of a phone scheme that is based on content first and the phone second: the Apple iPhone.

"One realizes when looking at the actual capabilities of the phone that like the rest of the mobile industry, this model is based on podcasts or downloads. Unlike the 3G phones that allow streaming, the iPhone does not [Ed. note: See details of a new 3rd-party app that does allow limited streaming in this issue of RAIN, here]... In reality, the iPhone may still provide the necessary push because it has spurred competitive products from the traditional phone manufacturers and competing carriers. That competitive product will be based on 3G and that does include streaming, so there is hope.

Quality means more than programming
"Broadcast radio, for the most part, has never really understood the Internet... If a group’s 'Internet strategy' is based only on minimizing cost, this strategy cannot compete with the Internet broadcasters who are serious about their audio... If you are streaming, compare your product to the Internet-only stations that you’re competing against. They will start taking broadcasters’ ad dollars away only if broadcasters let them...

"Broadcasters are spending a good deal of money promoting HD. Why not hedge the investment by promoting the additional platforms that are available to your listeners? Unlike HD’s inability to compete with satellite radio in the new car market, 3G holds the potential of actually allowing a station to start cashing in on both the primary and supplemental channels that have been developed.

"No matter what happens with the iPhone, CRB or just about anything else IP-related, the Internet is here to stay and so are those who want to deliver live media. If you want to be in those offices and on those phones, and get the ad dollars that will be associated with those streams, you need a quality product that goes well beyond programming."

The above is from an article by John Schaab, PC products manager for Orban Optimized Audio. Read the entire piece at Radio World Online here.


Headline: "Palm Centro can stream Internet radio out of the box"
Somehow I missed this when the first Palm Centro was released last month, but the newest, smallest Palm OS device — available for as little as $99! — comes with streaming Internet radio out of the box!

Previous Palm OS devices
such as the various Treos came with music player software called PocketTunes that would play MP3s, but the consumer needed to upgrade to PocketTunes Deluxe (approx. $16 and all the hassle that goes with downloading third-party software onto a mobile device) to be able to handle the streaming MP3 format (a/k/a Shoutcast streams) and thus be able to listen to Internet radio.

(One could use the directory or find custom-built options like

What’s new about the Centro is that PocketTunes Deluxe comes preinstalled on every device for no extra charge. That’s one more step toward Internet radio coming to the masses on their mobile devices.

BTW, the Centro is also a little bit smaller and about 33% lighter than most Treos. I’ll probably be getting one this weekend.

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    Kurt and Paul, this is deep background -- don't quote me!


Headline: "'iRadio' app for iPhone streams Shoutcast stations"
From “iRadio, by Conceited Software, just received an update which brings it much closer to being a valuable iPhone app.

"The app is basically a SHOUTcast player for the iPhone that allows playing and browsing of thousands of online stations. The app works best under WiFi, but is not limited to it, and does work while using EDGE.

"There are still many quirks to be worked out, but for the most part, we are impressed with this early application.”

Read this entire article from Gizmodo online here.

This piece of software, while currently a “grey market” application, brings the same functionality to the iPhone that PocketTunes Deluxe brings to Palm OS devices like the Treo and various music players bring to Windows Mobile devices — the ability to listen to any radio station in the world that offers a stream in the Shoutcast MP3 format, of which there are thousands. -- KH


Upcoming conferences
November 30 - Dec. 2 TazMedia Bootcamp: Scottsdale, AZ
December 1 IBS Webcast Conference: Fort Lauderdale, FL
December 8 IBS Webcast Conference: Los Angeles
January 20-28 Radio Wireless Week: Orlando, FL
February 19-23 iMa Public Media 2008 Conference: Los Angeles
April 1-3 CTIA Wireless 2008: Las Vegas, NV
April 21-23 Wireless Comm. Assc. Int'l 2008: Washington, DC
May 19 - 21 Streaming Media East: New York, NY
June 9-10 Computerworld Mobile & Wireless World: Miami, FL
June 12-13 Broadband Policy Summit IV: Washington, DC