RadioShack, Wireless, and Radio Ruminations

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radioshackSuddenly it seems everyone is holding forth on the re-branding of RadioShack as just “The Shack.” From those who think it is bad brand positioning to those who see it as moving forward with the times, there is no lack of opinion available on the Internet and in the papers.

David Coursey over at PC World, who compares the name change to a balding man adopting a “comb over” hairstyle, brings up a salient point concerning radio itself while writing about the shift:

Back to my second premise: Some pundits have suggested that Radio Shack doesn’t sell radios anymore, now that its focus is on wireless. But, isn’t wireless still just another name for radio?

I understand that people don’t think of their iPhones and Pre’s as radios, though they are. It is pretty hard to think about wireless data or a LAN and not notice an antenna or imagine data moving through the air. Yes, that’s radio.

Coming from a radio and Internet background, I had not thought of it in these terms before. To the average person, radio is simply a wireless device. I’ve said many times that it was the first wireless device, but honestly had not thought about it from the other side’s perspective. From a practical standpoint, there is little difference between playing music/talk that is streamed and that which is broadcast. All the user knows is that a small device receives that transmission from somewhere else and plays it. With broadcast, sometimes you get a weak or dead signal, something smart phone users can easily relate to.

We take technology for granted. If the end of the world came, how many people would know how to create electricity, much less wrangle it into a usable form? Not many — most of us just plug our appliances into the magic slots in the wall that makes them go. In the same way, the incredible expansion of wireless is a natural extension and amplification of the devices we already use.

While one can debate the endless differences between an 80211.n wireless connection and an FM band broadcast, the end user is blissfully unaware of the dialogue. To them, it just works. I have to agree with Mr. Coursey, it basically is radio.

Image: Stragelv / CC BY 2.0
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