The New iPhone 4G

Steve Jobs stood before the public again yesterday and introduced another cool mobile device that has everything on it except – well, Verizon service.

Otherwise, the new 4G iPhone is worth analyzing for at least two reasons: 1) it’s dazzling and desirable and 2) media companies will sooner or later realize that they are also competing with technology not just traditional delivery systems.

Where radio used to hunt down the “hole” in the market for a particular format and then exploit the vulnerability of nearby competitors, today they have to fully understand where listeners are spending their time and how they choose to enjoy content.

So here we go.

The new iPhone has a feature called “FaceTime” (a coincidence that it sounds like Facebook but is really portable Skype).

“FaceTime” enables real time video calls over WiFi connections. Point and communicate with someone else who has a 4G iPhone. No need to worry about costly AT&T bandwidth – as I said, “FaceTime” only works on WiFi.

That’s a home run right there.

A diversion but not necessarily a threat to traditional media.

Then there is a new 5-megapixel camera with LED flash – a front-facing camera and HD video recording in 720 pixels at 30 frames per second. You can edit the videos on the phone with a software app package.

There is Apple’s new “retina display” on the phone which improves resolution by 4 times previous iPhones and it has a contrast ratio of 800:1.

Oh, and this one will be interesting.

A gyro has been added that works with the accelerometer so that the gaming standard of 6-axis motion sensing is now available on the iPhone. Keep in mind this new operating system will work on the iPad as well. Gamers will spend more time with their favorite games on the go.

Of course, up to 40% more battery – a thinner phone.

No FM radio – again.

Every time Steve Jobs burps – a crowd forms, reports, spreads the word and helps launch another Apple product.

How can radio regain some magic?

1. The radio industry needs some magic back. I hear Lew Dickey is pressuring his local clusters to raise rates even as some of them are significantly off in audience. Their competitors can raise rates, but Cumulus cannot – at least as far as advertisers are concerned. The solution (from the Steve Jobs playbook): give advertisers something to get excited about.

2. Personalities are what advertisers have traditionally loved and supported. Sorry consolidators, you cut off your nose to spite your face when you fired them to save money. Radio’s equivalent of “FaceTime” is the popular morning team. Consumers want to see as well as hear. Personalities you can see and hear – what a way to get more money from advertisers.

3. Looks like the recession may not be over – even talk about double dipping us out of a recovery. Local radio is the most efficient buy for local advertisers (and big national ones, too) but just slotting cheap spots in overloaded stop sets will not earn the buzz Apple earns every time its CEO announces a new product. Time to give advertisers something special so they will want to pay more.

4. Here’s a free piece of advice (worth exactly what you’re paying for it): sit down with your programmers and marketers and promotion-minded salespeople and come up with one thing that is truly earth shattering that your station can announce. Odd isn’t it, Apple can do this every few months but you can’t name the last time the radio industry ever took away someone’s breath with something new and compelling.

While listeners are spending more and more time on mobile devices, radio stands dormant cutting personalities, voice tracking “corporate” music playlists and robbing the local community of its identity.

I’m using my iPad as a TV replacement and book reader. I do email when convenient. I play games. To me, my iPad has taken more time away from traditional media.

My iPhone has my to-do list on it. Email on the go. Calendar. Yes, I even talk on it. I expect with the new 4G features, the iPhone will be more useful and more of a distraction from traditional media.

If the iPhone had a radio, I’d probably not use it because I don’t consider my phone a radio. But now that the new iPhone operating system allows for multitasking I can play Pandora in the background while answering email, playing Scrabble or air hockey. You can listen to iHeart Radio, if you like.

Just today, I ordered a $99 pair of noise cancelling ear buds from Etymotic for my iPad so I can watch Leo Laporte’s video podcasts in an easy chair at the end of the day. I’d love to watch Dave Pratt or Dave & Geri as well. I’d love to be able to access the pop up keyboard to comment while listening.

So many distractions from traditional media or, to look at it another way, so many new ways to interact with audiences using the devices they obviously crave.

I’m getting excited.

So here are some “sample” headlines that radio people could make just like Steve Jobs does as CEO of Apple:

• John and Mary Doe return 6-10 am in a live video program that includes instant social networking access and touch access to local sponsors – radio’s version of “FaceTime”.

• WXXX will launch "Starving Artists Weekends" to help promote and sell local music. All local music all weekend long.

• KYYY will pay you to recruit new listeners, sign them up and make their names available to our database for future marketing and content distribution.

• Monster103 launches a new online and mobile game called “Record Mogul” where participants can play with each other (the way Scrabble partners can play together from all over the world on iPhone) to discover, promote and help build the careers of local musicians. My God, an interactive game from a radio station?

See, Steve Jobs has his format and we have ours.

The iPhone is just a mobile device without the apps.

And radio is just a forgotten frequency without something meaningful to shout about. That’s what is missing.

Start brainstorming.

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