Saul Hansel, who covers the Internet beat for The New York Times and blogs at The Times “Bits” blog, has a great article up right now that I highly recommend. It’s an interview with Tom DeVesto, the chief executive of Tivoli Audio, a company that makes high end radio devices including a variety of Internet radios.
Hansel starts off with the thought that what people want out of radio is simplicity: you turn it on and do other things. It’s a companion while you work, drive, etc. In his interview, he asks DeVesto, whose company produces luxury radios in the $600-$1,000 rage, how the people who purchase their radios see the revolution in digital music.
Mr. DeVesto had a clear vision of his customer: someone who uses a computer at work, carries a BlackBerry, but who doesn’t want to use ever more scarce leisure time to figure out some imperfect gadget.
“He doesn’t want to make his wine; he wants to open a bottle,” he explained. Music is simply not an end it itself, but something to accompany daily activities.
“The days of putting on an album, sitting down and listening to it are over,” he said. “Music is part of living.”
An interesting note, all of Tivoli’s Internet radio-capable devices are primarily built around content coming from traditional radio stations that also stream online. Tivoli is aiming for people who do not wish to spend the time learning how iTunes works — or any other player interfaces, for that matter. DeVesto also said:
“You don’t want to walk into a room with 10,000 CDs and have to look at them to pick out what you want,” he said. “You want to turn on the radio, hear the song that comes on and say, ‘This is great.’ ”
Once again we see radio viewed as a sort of music concierge, delivering entertainment with a minimum of button pushing and effort. While Tivoli has embraced the luxury market there are other encouraging developments for streaming stations. Only last month I wrote about the Epoq EIR-PW01 Internet radio player, a portable Internet radio that is soon to hit the market.
So, while Tivoli and Epoq bring radio’s simplicity and portability to the public, we continue to see wi-fi become more and more common. The other day I was at Findlay Market, a farmer’s market in Cincinnati, and there were signs up saying they had wi-fi. I predict in the near future we will find Internet radio almost as ubiquitous as traditional radio is now.