Here's my take.
- It's a long overdue addition.
- It's a great addition.
- At first glance, it looks to help keep radio relevant in the ever fragmenting media pie.
People can 'tag' songs they hear on the radio. And guess what happens when they next sync their iPod? You'll get prompted to download those songs from iTunes.
How does this benefit radio?
Does the radio station get a slice of the purchase price? No.
PCMag made light that Apple didn't make too much of a fuss about the addition of the FM tuner at their 09/09/09 presentation. Apple made a big deal about the camera, built-in speaker, Voice Over and pedometer. Oh, and iTunes 9. But FM tuner - yes, how nice. Moving on. It's like they were obligated to include it, like having to hand in overdue homework from 3 years ago.
iPod Nano vs Digital Radio
The features of the iPod Nano FM tuner poses problems for the New Zealand and Australian radio industries. We are launching digital radio - and Apple has stolen the thunder of these "new" features: live pause, rewind and artist tagging. When the radio industry is forking out billions to introduce this new (and very expensive) technology, its a fierce marketing ploy by Apple to get consumers to buy new iPod Nanos instead of digital radios.
Radio should HATE Apple, but its obvious we need Apple considering the impact of iPods, and the sheer marketshare Apple has. So its an understandably bitter start to perhaps the most unsavoury of partnerships.
Some of the comments made at the PCMag site include:
It actually made me angry that that apple chose not to include it for so long. It smacked of arrogance that they chose to ignore how many people felt it to be important because the feature didn't fit into their own framework of how a music player 'should' be used...I couldn't help but retort.
I don't the absence of an FM tuner smacked of arrogance as much as it smacked of "who listens to the radio any more?" I used to listen to the radio all the time, but with advances in portable audio I now almost never do. Personally I think an AM radio would be more useful on an iPod...
Remember this - In the US, the FM dial might be predominantly littered with MUSIC based radio stations, in many other countries (Apples biggest market), half the FM dial is filled with talk, sport, commentary, access, public and ethnic language broadcasters who play little music, if at all.Apple can't achieve world domination by being arrogant now, can they?
Apple was arrogant to ignore FM for so long. They still show this arrogance, as there is no AM radio support. Despite the low quality sound, the AM band is very valuable when it comes to 'content' and the supposed issue around 'quality' is overshadowed by the fact that AM offers unique content - much of it talk/commentary - where sound quality is a redundant argument.
So what's in it for Apple? Plenty. There's no music to tag, but you could tag the station if they offer podcasts for example. If its not blatantly obvious to you yet on why this is value - I'll spell it out. People will use THEIR product for media consumption. If it's downloading music, listening to podcasts, live radio, playing games, reading news online, watching/recording video - Apple want you to use THEIR product to do it.
Meanwhile at Facebook:
Mark Ramsey: Once the glow wears off I fear Broadcasters will feel radio has been "saved" by the iPod Nano.
Me: Apple is using radio to make more money for themselves. how does this help radio?
Mark Ramsey: Richard, it helps only in that it makes radio a tad cooler to people who consider us (correctly) uncool. Yes, Apple's motivation is clear, but so what? Everything about the trends in radio - including and especially PPM - argue for more music and less of everything else. In the long run, we are working our hardest to be Apple's bitch.