Bob Struble, Post-CES: Not Good For Radio To Be The Last Analog Standing
February 2, 2012 at 11:47 AM (PT)
After visiting the recently-held CES convention, iBIQUITY DIGITAL CORP. Pres./CEO BOB STRUBLE came to an inescapable conclusion. In his column posted on IBQUITY's website, STRUBLE noted, "I can’t claim that I saw every booth or met every exhibitor, but I did see a lot, and came to a distressing realization: AM/FM radio is the only analog technology remaining at CES, everything else is digital. And that should concern all radio broadcasters, deeply.'
"That AM/FM is still growing and profitable while using 100-year old technology is a testimony to the industry’s resilience and adaptability," he continued. "But it is not a viable long-term growth strategy. As CES showed, the vastly superior consumer experience digital technologies can deliver will win out over the limited capabilities of analog technology. Fair minds can debate how long that will take, but the end point is clear.'
Citing digital's penetration into automobile dashboards, STRUBLE said, "Analog radio’s limited capabilities will not compete well in this new digital dash. Unless broadcasters upgrade their offering to digital to meet consumer expectations and work together to deliver a compelling and consistent consumer experience, they risk AM/FM becoming a forgotten app in the digital dashboard.'
On the other hand, he agreed with radio group heads who warn against relying too much on streaming to grow revenue. "Radio broadcasters should certainly work to build their streaming offerings, for many reasons," he wrote. "But they in no way should believe that those services will come anywhere close to replicating their broadcast business.
The experience left STRUBLE to draw a simple, if obvious, conclusion: "Coming out of CES, the evidence is conclusive: that future requires an HD Radio transition. CES 2012 emphasized that 100-year-old analog technology simply cannot deliver the rich experience -- in cars or in phones - that today’s consumers expect.
'Happily, as seen in the HD Radio booth, we are making strong progress upgrading broadcast radio to digital: many more cars, lots of new, lower-cost CE Radios, exciting new advanced services, the first mobile phones with the technology built in. But there is a long way to go, and much of the effort has to come from radio broadcasters themselves."