Top Menu

HD Radio smartphone prototype to debut at NAB

Middle-tier radio owner Emmis Communications has announced that it will demonstrate an HD Radio equipped smartphone at a press event this coming Monday at the 2012 NAB Show. The prototype phone was developed in conjunction with Intel and iBiquity, which owns the HD Radio system, but few other details are available, including what operating system it runs and what smartphone manufacturer might be willing to run with the ball.

Effectively what we can expect is a proof of concept, which means that a ready-to-ship phone is months, if not years away. While having an HD Radio capable smartphone has seemed like a silver bullet for the commercial radio industry, it seems like that bullet has tarnished over time. It’s telling that the relatively small player Emmis is the company behind the prototype rather than the likes of Clear Channel or CBS. Clear Channel, in particular, has seemed to be backing away from HD Radio in favor of its iHeartRadio platform and smartphone apps.

The logical question to ask is what incentive do the major smartphone manufacturers have to add HD Radio functionality? I seriously doubt it’s a feature that the average consumer will pay more to get. I can actually see the carriers possibly wanting it as a way to offer consumers some free content that doesn’t suck up any mobile bandwidth. Nevertheless, I think that reasoning is a stretch. On top of that, because HD signals are broadcast at lower power than the main analog signal, HD reception can be pretty spotty on a mobile device. Arguably in urban areas it will be easier to keep an maintain streaming radio bandwidth than keeping a solid HD signal.

It’s also telling that this story has only been picked up by the radio industry press and Inside Indiana Business; Emmis is headquartered in Indianapolis. Not a peep has appeared in the gadget blogosphere, which otherwise isn’t particularly discriminating in picking up just about any electronics tech news. We’ll have to wait ’til Monday to learn more.

Just one dollar a month makes you a patron of Radio Survivor. Help us through our Patreon Campaign!


, , ,

9 Responses to HD Radio smartphone prototype to debut at NAB

  1. Greg April 12, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    “Study: Consumers want HD Radio in mobile devices”

    “iBiquity Digital unveiled the results of a recent comScore study that validates consumer demand and willingness to pay a premium for HD Radio Technology as a handset feature. 68% of consumers surveyed are interested or extremely interested in mobile phones that include HD Radio Technology. 75% of those who own a mobile phone would listen to HD Radio broadcasts via their mobile phone. $42 is the value premium consumers attribute to HD Radio Technology in mobile phones.”

    The comScore study never showed up on comScore’s website. Well, iBiquity somehow has gotten all of the automakers on board, in some degree. I’de love to see iBquity’s demos to the automakers, if the automakers are even testing HD Radio. No doubt iBiquity will manage to dupe the cell phone companies, too. HD Radio is still asking for a reason to exist.

  2. Klewis April 12, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    Another great story, Paul.

    Greg, doesn’t HD currentlg have about a 4% adoption rate?

    Did the survey ask if people would pay the $42? That sounds

    like a polite focus group response. I don’t use any apps on my phone that cost more than a few dollars, nor to I see what problem this solves for the end user? My TV has HD, but the local stations I listen to, I stream directly from their own apps. Is there an upside to HD that I’ve missed?

  3. Greg April 12, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    @Klewis: Outside the auto industry, the adoption rate must be below 1%. The retailers never really mass-adopted HD radios, and most have abandoned their efforts. I think the comScore study was a farce, and probably some sort of deal between Struble and comScore’s CEO. The study never appeared in comScore’s database. The figures quoted are totally laughable. But, that is how Struble works.

  4. PRC April 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    I have but one question. How much money did they waste on this and could it have been used instead to keep WRXP from being sold into FM News?

  5. Greg April 12, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    @PRC: From inception to development, in the early 1990’s, I suspect hundreds-of-millions. With all of the on-air advertising, it amounts to over a billion. Investors have poured about $175,000,000 into iBiquity. NPR is one of the biggest perpetrators, having bilked Congress out of tens-of-millions of tax-payer dollars, at least, for this needless, destructive, non-functioning technology. Hats off to Struble and iBiquity!

  6. PRC April 12, 2012 at 1:55 pm #


    No I mean how much did Emmis waste on this prototype HD Radio enabled smartphone crap.

  7. Greg April 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    I jave no idea.

  8. Tom Sulkin April 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    What handset manufacturer will willingly add even 25¢ of manufacturing cost to a phone?

    In the U.S. most radio listening is done in cars, and most new cars will soon have HD Radio, eliminating the need to have it on the phone as well. Without a decent antenna, HD Radio won’t work well on phones anyway (even analog FM on phones works poorly).

    Personally, I’m a big fan of HD Radio. I find listening to analog radio extremely annoying now that I’ve experienced HD Radio, both in terms of audio quality and advertising. But I don’t see it succeeding on phones.

    Unfortunately I don’t think the lack of advertising on HD Radio will continue much longer, now that it’s becoming more popular. Once there’s a sufficient listener base the stations will end the free lunch.

  9. Liz April 16, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    I see “HD” radio going the way of the 8-Track in a few years…

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes