Looking at the world of media: from music to RIA.

The future of Wi-Fi

September 6th, 2006 Posted in Distribution, General Media / Stuff, Music, Satellite Radio

Last night, before the weekly FS evening meeting Maer, Chris and I started discussing a recent article in the NY Times that Christopher had sent out to all the Fake Scientists.  The article focuses on the new "tastemakers" and services like Pandora.

The conversation quickly changed direction and started deviling into the future (or potential lack there of) of radio. One of the most interesting quotes from the article is by Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora:

New generations of wireless Internet-connected devices will vault the Web’s customized radio services into places where broadcast radio is still dominant: in cars for example. “All of a sudden the competition for your ear there changes dramatically,” Mr. Westergren said. “The FM station then has to compete with a personalized service that you’ve crafted for yourself. That’s a watershed moment.”
– from "The New Tastmakers" by JEFF LEEDS

I completely agree with Mr. Westergren on this issue.  Here is why it gets interesting, first lets look at the new Sirius device that was just released, the Sirius Stiletto 100. At first glance this another portable MP3 Player with a satellite receiver built into it, but as pointed out in article "Finally, a Sirius iPod Threat" the device has built in Wi-Fi support. Sirius is now offering their SIR (Sirius Internet Radio) service which the device can access via Wi-Fi connection.

Now, let’s look at where Wi-Fi is going.  A good example is my previous post about AC Transit and Wi-fi. Now, when I am in transit I can access my SIR service without requiring the satellite feed (and the chance it will be blocked by the bridge or tunnel). Another big change for Wi-Fi would be the just announced plan to blanket Silicon Valley with Wi-Fi:

The project will cover 1,500 square miles in 38 cities in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda and Santa Cruz Counties, an area of 2.4 million residents. Its builders, going by the name Silicon Valley Metro Connect, said the service would provide free basic wireless access at speeds up to 1 megabit a second — which is roughly comparable to broadband speeds by telephone — in outdoor areas.
– "Silicon Valley to Receive Free Wi-Fi" By MATT RICHTEL

Let’s take the next jump… what if SIR and Pandora teamed up?  What happens if there is a hack for the Stiletto that allows you to stream other services?  What happens if you can take advantage of the two-way communication Wi-Fi allows?  You could have a Tivo like thumb up/down button on your device to modify your Pandora account.  Now, you have truly interactive portable music anywhere.

As Wi-Fi grows and more municipalities look into providing Wi-Fi as a service, this really changes the future of terrestrial radio.  For many years people have predicted the so called "death of radio" and have been wrong.  I am not going to follow them and announce that radio is dead… but, I feel we are seeing a truly important change in the future of authoritative broadcasting. One where listener input is no longer just a phone call and a request, but a real-time personalized adjustment that plays what you want to hear when you want to hear it.

Powered by Qumana

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.