Posts Tagged ‘smart phone’

Mobile Pointers for Radio From NPR

July 10, 2009

nprWith the Internet rapidly being decoupled from intimidating desktop computers, the opportunity for radio to expand upon its ubiquity is massive. There is the push to get standard FM receivers integrated as a standard feature in cell phones on one hand and the expansion of Internet-based radio delivery to mobiles on the other. Both are important issues, but today I’ll be looking at the latter.

As radio expands into the mobile Internet space, bandwidth is far from the only issue faced. In the age of 3G (and upcoming 4G) networks, the speed is there when you’ve got a solid signal. As we all know, those cute little bars that show our signal strength can go up and down like a pair of kangaroos in the mating season.

Amy Gahran, a media consultant in Boulder, Colorado, and a contributor to Poynter Online, recently wrote a terrific post about radio accessibility on mobile phones. NPR was her shining example of how to do it right.

You see, for Ms. Gahran, as with most of the mobile users I know (including myself), speed and ease of use are paramount. In this regard, NPR continues to point the way with options that should be making radio people sit up and take notice.Some of her most pertinent points are:

  • Automatic redirect to the mobile version of the website: No wasting time while a standard website takes forever to load on your phone, the simple measure of using an autodetect gets you to the site and stream most suited to your connection. This is a massive time and battery saver, two issues that are near and dear to every mobile listener’s heart.
  • Useful and intuitive layout- placing a link to hourly news at the top of the page saves the majority of users from excess scrolling. A minimalist approach to layout and graphics provides the rapid load times mobile users desire regardless of connection.
  • Localism- If you denote your local station on the website, it will remember for next time. Again, a time-saving process essential for the immediacy of the mobile world.

While I think we are all aware of the essential need to engage cell phone users, I think that she is dead on when she comments:

As I wrote last month, far more people own cell phones than will ever have access to Internet-enabled computers. Cell phones — whether fancy “smart phones” or simple models with stripped-down Web browsers — are valuable and vastly underutilized news platforms.

People want news where they are, and often their cell phone is all they’ve got. Also, they may sometimes only have a couple of bars of cell network connection. It’s up to news organizations to work with those constraints to help build loyalty with this huge market. NPR sets a great example on this front.

The era of the real time web combined with the instant access of mobile is changing the equation daily. Just as with social media, the radio industry needs to meet our listeners on their terms and on their preferred platforms. This is especially true now, when smart phones are bringing those who have no interest in computers per se onto the Internet where our streams and websites  are now pertinent to them.

Photo courtesy of Mr. T in DC, used under its Creative Commons license


Call to Action: Get Radio In Your Cell Phone

July 3, 2009

rhh-originalAs regular readers are aware, this website is part of the Radio Heard Here campaign. One of the reasons I was brought on board is because I have a passion for the medium and a broadcast background. I also have one foot in the digital world since I make my living producing content for the web and working with social media. The evolution of radio on the Internet and on mobile devices is a subject I have followed closely since the inception of this blog.

One issue that has arisen consistently is the integration of FM-capable chips into the new generation of smart phones.  I know there are those who wonder why we would need an FM chip in phones that can access the Internet, and by extension an incredible array of radio signals via streaming. It really is not counterintuitive once you consider it.

With that in mind I’d like to direct readers towards a new initiative that has just gone live on the Radio Heard Here website, FM Radio in Mobile Phones. The objective is to push for FM receivers to become standard issue in all mobile phones.

There is a lot of great information there, and a lot that touches on my pet topic of emergency preparedness. I’ve been there in the days after Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the New Orleans levees. It was impossible to get a call through to the 504 area code. Overloading of the network brought cell based communications to a standstill. My phone became what some unfortunate iPhone users call “a brick.”

If there had been an FM receiver in that phone I would have been able access pertinent news and information without any regard for the state of the overburdened network. To me that personal experience is irrefutable proof of the need for these chips. Talk is easy, but when you’ve been there, things take on a different level of urgency.

There is already headway being made in this area, as the Radio Heard Here piece demonstrates:

Broadcom recently announced an integrated circuit device that combines WiFi, Bluetooth and FM on a single “chip,” making it easier for manufacturers to integrate essential functionality in one chip.

Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile are including FM radio-capable handsets in their offering and the radio industry is working on getting Apple on board as well. In fact, the Apple iPhone 3GS includes the Broadcom chip described above which has FM receiver capability. It is not a current function of the 3GS but can be easily included in a future upgrade since the FM-capable device is already present in the current design.

Nokia has sold more than 700 million devices with built-in FM radio receivers worldwide, demonstrating consumer recognition of the value.

Tell us your thoughts on this initiative by visiting Spread the word among your radio industry colleagues and ask them to do the same. Spread the word to listeners over the air and on your radio station websites and ask them to voice their support for FM radio on cell phones. Together, we can mobilize this initiative throughout the industry and the listening population to demonstrate the fundamental necessity for FM radio receivers in mobile devices.

Image: Radio Heard Here logo

PPM Reaches Mobile-Exclusive Households

March 23, 2009


It is no secret that cell phones, smartphones in particular, are the new frontier for radio. The ability to reach an audience that is always “on the go” through their cell phones is one of the recognized importance — just Google around a bit if you don’t believe me.

Like with all incarnations of radio (and all media in general, for that matter), once you’ve figured out a way to reach the new demographic the next hurdle to overcome is audience measurement. Recently Arbiton unveiled a new approach to harvesting data thanks to a deal reached with Telular Corporation, a leading wireless communications company.

Using fixed cellular terminals produced by Telular, Arbitron plans to collect listening info from those who lack landlines, particularly the “millennials.” By connecting these terminals to Arbitron’s Portable People Meter (PPM) the company hopes to obtain a cost-effective and reliable way to transmit audience measurement data across cell networks.

Via FoxBusiness:

“Telular’s terminals allow us to cost-effectively use the latest wireless technology to collect radio ratings data from the hard-to-reach mobile-exclusive demographics,” said Beth Webb, Vice President, Research, Arbitron. “The Terminals are helping us increase participation among the young and ethnic radio listeners who live in cell-phone-only households.”

Telular’s fixed cellular solutions bridge the gap between analog and digital communications, providing continuous connectivity to locations where a traditional phone line has been disrupted, removed or non-existent. […] This wireless solution will act as a connection in homes with no landlines, allowing Arbitron to quickly and efficiently download information gathered by the PPMs.

“It’s exciting to see companies like Arbitron using innovative technology to reach households that have chosen to cut their telephone line, either to save money or because cell phones are all they need,” said Joe Beatty, President and CEO of Telular.

As part of the aforementioned mobile-exclusive demographic I am pleased to see efforts like these. Gathering accurate info is always of paramount importance, and the cell phone-only home is becoming more common every day.

Photo courtesy of Samantha Celera, used under its Creative Commons license