Apple exploring HD Radio for future iPods & iPhones


Apple Insider reports that Apple may be more interested in radio than it appeared:

A new patent application from Apple this week centers around HD Radio. The application suggests that future handsets from Apple, such as the iPod or iPhone, could embrace HD Radio technology to allow users greater flexibility when listening to broadcast media. The system describes both an external radio receiver, wirelessly transmitting audio and data to the portable device. It also suggests that such data could be shared with a stereo system in a vehicle.

Bloggers once declared that Apple would never put a radio receiver in an iPod. When one appeared in the new Nano, the pundits back-peddled a bit, but still maintained that Steve Jobs had no interest in putting receivers in other Apple products. This patent suggests otherwise.

And there’s a good reason. Last September we wrote:

Make no mistake. This move was not designed to help radio. It was designed to give iTunes a revenue boost. Radio stations do share in the download revenue that tagging brings to Apple, but it probably won’t be enough to reinstated the Christmas party.

The real value to radio is the acknowledgment that radio can move product. They were looking for more revenue, and they knew that the Internet couldn’t deliver. There is no other vehicle that can expose people to music like commercial terrestrial radio. The Labels and performers may have forgotten this, but Apple didn’t.

Perhaps Steve Jobs is the one person that can save HD radio. Its survival is far from assured, even if Apple adds an HD receiver to its product line. However, if radio responds by finally creating unique formats for HD that people like, HD just might make it.

–Glenda Shrader Bos & Richard Harker, Harker Research