Prospects for the New iPod Nano FM

The radio industry finally got what it wanted from Apple yesterday -- an iPod with FM capabilities.

That's what it figured would bring radio into the mobile future -- into the hands of young people -- cooler than a radio and wrapped in the cachet of the iPod.

Well, better be careful what you wish for.

None other than Apple CEO Steve Jobs himself helped usher the iPod Nano into the marketplace. He looked as slim as the Nano at yesterday's unveiling.

The new iPod Nano FM comes with Live Pause
as well as iTunes Tagging that Apple's own ad claims will "... make listening to the radio nothing like listening to the radio".

That's right because it won't be used as a radio.

If anything, it will be a form of music discovery for some people who want to tag songs they "discover" on terrestrial radio -- good luck finding new music-- and then buy them -- even more good luck!

This is a classic example of what I mean about misreading the sociological signals of the next generation.

Since when do they buy music?

I thought the record industry was dying because they can't sell CDs or legal downloads.

Have I missed something or do most young people steal music -- or should I say, discover and share -- without the burden of buying? The new Nano FM "cache recorder" which is really what it is will not help increase legal music sales -- only give the minority that still pays for music another way to tag and buy.

Not a growth item.

And since when does a young person listen to anything for very long?

Remember, they've been accused of having short attention spans so I guess we never believed it because now this Nano FM comes along and it expects to broadcast -- presumably for longer than one song -- to Nano owners.

Nano owners won't listen to radio.

And radio by and large doesn't play new music and is incredibly out of touch with music discovery. I guess the major consolidators got the Nano FM memo and all of a sudden are going to start airing longer, richer and more diverse playlists so as to not disappoint any potential new Nano converts.

Fat chance.

Okay, if the Nano market doesn't buy new music and if broadcast radio doesn't really play new music, then what's the big deal over the new Nano FM?

I'm waiting.

Steve Jobs is about ready to make fools out of radio consolidators (although they do a pretty good job of it themselves) the way he did and continues to do with record label execs.

You see, the Nano is all about Apple and the Apple iTunes store which is America's legal music source.

But Jobs, whose business is not really based on being in the music business, sells new iPods to make his money. And iPod sales have been slipping lately. That's why FM capability wasn't the only thing Apple added to the new Nano.

Nano now includes video recording with effects that let consumers shoot video—even with video effects. Keep in mind this Nano is slim -- real slim.

Genius Mixes are now their personal DJ -- aah, that's more like it to Gen Y -- searching their iTunes library to find songs that go good together and then organizing them into mixes -- all on autopilot.

A Pedometer and Nike + iPod that counts your steps while exercising or allows consumers to add a Nike + iPod Sport Kit so their iPod can track their personal fitness progress.

So let's keep it all in perspective.

The FM addition is one -- perhaps the least attractive addition to consumers -- of the new, remodeled iPod.

But to radio folks, it doesn't matter. They have finally acquired the coolness factor even if in the end their programming doesn't live up to it or even if consumers can't sit still for broadcasting.

Today you're going to read a lot of pie-in-the-sky about the Nano being a great boost to FM radio. Keep in mind there have been ways to access FM radio on previous mobile devices such as the iPhone. None with earth shattering results.

The litmus test should be -- is Pandora all of a sudden quaking in their boots because Nano's will have direct FM access?

You know the answer.

Pandora is the best radio that young listeners can expect. They'll access it through apps and online. Nano FM is the easiest way to access radio's worst voice-tracked, networked and personality devoid programming in 30 years.

I think Apple will get into the streaming business eventually -- like Spotify but better.

Every September Apple refreshes its iPod line. This year they've made radio broadcasters who have had very little to cheer about happy.

By next September when enthusiasm wanes, don't be surprised if radio's big honchos have learned the lesson that you and I already know.

Even Apple can't make repeater radio cool.

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