Nike Radio

Radio has faced a lot of competition in the past ten years, but are you aware of one of the more offbeat competitors -- running shoes?

Nike and Apple have teamed up to create Nike + Nano running shoes with an iPod that talks to you about your run --and entertains along the way.

Runners used to listen to radio or a Walkman or lately a small iPod such as a Nano. But that's so retro. Now you'll find more for the consumer and more competition for traditional media.

Here's how it works.

There's a pocket under the insole engineered for the Nike + iPod sensor. The iPod nano syncs workout data with both iTunes and According to the Apple website "The Sport Kit allows your Nike+ shoe to talk to your iPod nano. The sensor uses a sensitive accelerometer to measure your activity, then wirelessly transfers this data to the receiver on your iPod nano".

The shoes talk. You can see the minutes tick by on the nano and keep track of the the miles. Track the distance plus calories burned. Then, hear real-time feedback while listening to the music you programmed on your nano "including the one song that always gets you through the home stretch".

Choose workouts from the Nike + iPod menu. Pick the open-ended basic workout or customize a workout with time, distance and calorie goals. Then pick a playlist, shuffle songs or choose Nike-created Sport Music content.

You can get to your power song with one click while running and displays up to 1,000 individual workouts, so you can view your data anytime.

And there is a website where you can review your runs. Here's a sample.

When I first heard about this I thought "they must be kidding" -- not another distraction from traditional media.

But it's more than a distraction. It is a customization of music and information that fits perfectly for runners. Ideas like this further pull listeners from traditional radio and there will be more on the way.

Now I'm not saying that radio should shake in its boots because Nike and iPod have put together a niche product for runners. What I am saying is that in our new world where technology and Internet access meet, traditional media cannot compete.

Television is finding this out now and is making every mistake in the book. I'll talk more about TV's growing problems in the near future.

But Nike Radio is emblematic of the problems that traditional media companies now face.

After you factor in the self-inflicted problems resulting from consolidation, the Internet, a new generation not raised on radio, the decline of the record labels, the ascent of Apple and mobile phone technology you have an uncertain outlook for traditional media at best.

What I see going forward is more portable devices whether they are the next generation iPods, smart phones or mini-computers. WiFi and/or WiMax capability expanding the Internet to people on the go.

Radio can no longer be what an iPod can do better.

But where radio and satellite radio might have a future is in creating entertainment. New shows, well-produced and professionally done. This costs money and traditional media companies (being tethered to Wall Street investors) don't like to spend money on such things.

If radio sounds like an iPod, it still can't be customized by the listener.

If radio keeps trying to do dj shows in an age when only Gen X and baby boomers may like that approach, it won't resonate with the next generation.

Radio will have to offer real entertainment and distribute it in user friendly ways -- not just over the terrestrial signal or else it will lose listeners to things like running shoes that talk and whatever else is next.

If broadcast radio continues to stubbornly program with jocks, liners and limited playlists like there is no tomorrow -- there will be no tomorrow.

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