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Digital Radio, the "Euro Chip Initiative" and "The Universal Smartphone Radio Project"
Was taking a "break" today and decided to check up on the latest news about Digital Radio (DAB/DAB+/DRM/HD/etc) and the NEW (& improved, LOL) efforts to spread digital & analog radio on smartphones via the "Euro Chip Initiative" and "The Universal Smartphone Radio Project".
My quick conclusion is that it's all doomed, as much as I'd like that not to be true.
The markets seem to indicate that efforts to promote digital radio are largely unsuccessful. There are some country markets doing better, but analog FM radio is still king, and rumors of analog shutoff in a country or 2 have no substance.
Basically, the proponents of digital radio are promoting it with "always upbeat" marketing messages, and almost no consumers are actually buying it. Now they seem to be "attacking" 4g/LTE/etc delivery methods as inefficient, which may have some truth, but it doesn't matter if nobody is buying it.
The "Euro Chip Initiative" and "The Universal Smartphone Radio Project" are trying to promote hybrid analog/digital radio chips in smart devices, and standard APIs to access them. Sony/ST-Ericcson started an effort to get a standard Android FM API at least 4 years ago. And it went nowhere and it's dead. I see no reason why new efforts would succeed while old ones failed.
IMO, it would be GREAT for me if these efforts bore fruit. I wish them (and myself) success. But I have no reason to expect success.
I hesitate to be "too full of myself"/cocky, but I think there's a good chance that nobody else in this world has had more experience with a wide variety of FM chips and APIs in use on the most popular (by far) smartphone platform of Android. I've become experienced in somewhere around 6 high level APIs and 6 low level FM APIs (I lost track, LOL). And on several generations of chips, Android versions, phones, ROMs, etc. Even the devs working for Samsung etc, only see Samsung phones, and likely have dealt with a more limited number of chips and APIs.
So, where the heck is this API ? And, given my experience, I'm feeling like it's hard to take seriously any attempt at another proposed standard FM/radio API, when nobody has even sent me an email about this. How many other written from scratch FM/real radio apps are on Google Play ? (Yes, there are a few minor ones if you dig deeply past the thousands of streaming apps.)
I've read that these people want to create an API for the hordes of developers who don't have an API to write to and don't want to deal with the minutiae of radio/RDS/etc technicalities. So you'd think they'd want to get feedback from devs. But I haven't heard from them.
Silence can be deafening.
So what's the future of radio ? In smartphones, I don't know. I have little idea of what deals will or will not be made, or how well they'll go between broadcasters, chip OEMs, phone OEMs, and all the other parties, including Google, Apple, MS, etc. Sooner or later, my little niche might be too small for me to continue. Hope not, but nothing lasts forever, and we'll see.
As far as radio broadcasting goes, I continue to think analog FM has at least 10 years of life left, maybe 20, and more so in less connected parts of the world.
And I think digital broadcasting will continue to limp along.
And the use of streaming services will continue to rise, particularly for the richer people and countries. 4g will give way to 5g and 6g etc.
Basically, I think the trends in place will continue. And no amount of hand wringing or proposals for hybrid chips or new APIs will go anywhere. The only things that matter will be the "votes" of countless people as they buy phones with or without usable analog FM chips (and standalone radios). Technology has to be PULLED by masses of people spending money. It can't be PUSHED.
The successful transition of TV from analog to digital does not translate into the same for radio.