Ask the average person on the street if they've ever heard of HD Radio, and you'll most likely get a blank stare. Despite a large advertising push, most folks still have no clue what HD Radio is, how to get it, or why it even matters. However, in a recent article in TWICE, retailers are expecting a boost in sales and market penetration as affordable new products and technologies come around. What's new in the HD Radio field?
More and more stations have started to take advantage of the extra channels available on the digital FM band. The report said that more than 800 FM stations are multi-casting two or three different programs on their frequencies. Who doesn't like more choices?
A lot of folks are hoping that iTunes Tagging will give HD Radio a huge boost. Jumping onto the iTunes bandwagon has to help. Tagging lets you bookmark a song you've heard on an HD Radio station, and when that player is connected to the Internet, it goes to iTunes and lets you quickly and easily purchase the song and download it. Nice feature, but it's questionable if it's enough to get folks to listen.
The obvious advantage to HD Radio is the sound quality, and apparently, no one really cares. It's free, but people aren't seeking out the receivers. However, lower prices will help. More and more home and car audio products are including HD Radio receivers, so more people will have exposure to it, if just as an added feature they didn't really think to look for. If you build it, people will listen. Or so we hope.—Leslie Shapiro
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