Did Samsung Just Bring Nielsen Audio A PPM Tech Trouble?

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Until now, Samsung has been a big friend of the broadcast radio industry. In early 2018, it committed to turning on FM chips across its headset units, bringing data-free, MHz-based broadcast radio to the user.


Now, a major technological advancement coming with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus is poised to bring a small headache to radio … or, more specifically, radio ratings source Nielsen Audio.

According to CNET, the coming hand-held smartphone feature “a brilliant prismatic backing on two of its color options, shining back the rainbow.”

Oh, and they also no longer include a headphone jack.

Say what?

Indeed, the 6.3-inch Galaxy Note 10 and 6.8-inch Galaxy Note 10 Plus each lack an earbud plug-in. The 5G version going to Verizon, and then Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T, is “identical in every way.”

That’s an ominous sign for Nielsen Audio, which has a Portable People Meter (PPM) passthrough apparatus for individuals who stream radio stations via their smartphone, as shown in the accompanying photo.

Simply put, wired earbuds can be used so long as it plugs in to an extender affixed to a PPM device. This gives Nielsen Audio listener data, while the user can enjoy whatever radio station they may be streaming.

The passthrough is essential for the PPM, as it provides the crucial encoding signal used to detect what station the listener is tuned to.

Meanwhile, the headphone is essential for FM radio reception via an app such as Soundot, or the forlorn NextRadio developed by Emmis’ TagStation LLC. Without a headphone, the presence of an FM chip in a smartphone may be rendered useless.

Why was the headphone jack removed? CNET reports that Samsung’s reason is to free up space in the phone for more battery capacity. Further, according to Samsung nearly 7 in 10 Galaxy S and Note users were not using the jack, thanks to the proliferation of wireless earbuds.

Asked for comment, the company released a statement noting that, “at a high level, based on a pilot study we conducted, we estimate that about 2% of listening occurs via wireless headphones. Nearly all of the listening to broadcast radio via wireless headphones is to broadcast streams. That said, PPM comes with an adapter that connects wired headphones to the audio device such as a smartphone and the PPM to capture headphone usage. We are working on creating an adjustment factor to account for wireless headphone usage and to adjust the wired usage we capture with the adapter (as needed).

As CNET reports, Samsung’s decision to remove the headphone jack “is a big deal,” as Samsung was the “last major bastian of the 3.5mm port.”

Yes, users will get a complimentary USB-C headphone set. But, if you want to keep your existing headphone, a $10 dongle will be needed; Google and Apple dongles were found to work just as a Samsung dongle.

The Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus became available via preorders on August 8. They go  on sale August 23. Colors include Aura White, Aura Black and Aura Glow. The Note 10 Plus is exclusive to Best Buy and Samsung.com buyers and comes in Aura Blue.

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