x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Technology has been the radio industry's saviour

Forget about huddling around the radio. These days, the media format can be accessed through smartphones, tablets and even underwater MP3 players.

It used to be that families would huddle around a single radio to listen to music and major news.

These days, however, radio can be accessed through a plethora of products.

These include tablets and smartphones that stream websites through software apps, as well as some portable music players that can be taken for a run or even under water during a swim while accessing FM stations.

Here is how the media format has tried to keep up with technological changes.

Historically, how quickly did radio technology take off?

Sales of radios built for consumers really started to grow in the 1920s, as prices for different models started to fall. About 100,000 radios were produced in the United States in 1922, with about 500,000 just a year later.

How many radios are sold now?

It is hard to measure accurately the total number of radios being sold, because the technology is often embedded in different kinds of devices. Music from internet radio is often accessible through websites displayed on desktop and laptop computers, while software apps have made the format available through certain smartphones and tablets. Apps such as Pandora Radio, StreamFurious and TuneIn work on smartphones that use Google's Android software. Some also work on Apple's iPad tablet.

What other consumer electronic devices have incorporated radio?

Old radio podcasts, as well as FM stations, can be played through some portable music devices. Apple's iPod Nano, for one, displays the artist, song or programme a person is listening to when using the radio feature. Some manufacturers also claim their products can stream radio underwater. This group includes Nu's Dolphin Touch model, which retails for about US$105 (Dh385.68) on Amazon.com.

Have more people started listening to internet radio as it has become more widely available through all of these technologies?

The number of people regularly listening to internet radio or music streaming services has remained relatively unchanged between 2009 and last year in Europe, where 30 per cent were tuning in, as well as in the US, at 38 per cent, according to a market study by Futuresource Consulting. But this report also found that the total number of internet radio listening hours in these regions had increased by between 20 and 27 per cent during that time. In other words, the same number of people are tuning in - but they are listening longer.

How do companies with internet radio sites make money?

Most that offer talk radio and music services do not charge listeners but charge companies to advertise on the websites. Some music services that are streamed online charge $15 each month.

Will standalone radios exist in the future?

Yes, although they are adapting. A company called Livio makes radios that can access more than 40,000 online audio streams in the presence of Wi-Fi, according to the tech review site cnet.com.

nparmar@thenational.ae