that XM Satellite Radio is expected to unveil a portable receiver for its service and this got me thinking, “Would this be a cool iPod enhancement or what?”
If you run through the specs of MP3 players other than the iPod, you’ll find that one area in which they differ from Apple’s offering is in the inclusion of an FM tuner — they have it, the iPod doesn’t. Apple has never been a “me too” company — they don’t add features that everyone else offers simply for the sake of parity. But they are well known for being a “me too and who’s your daddy?” company, where they not only add a feature, but make that feature far cooler than anything else out there.
It’s this kind of thinking that leads me to believe that if Apple were to offer some kind of radio feature, it would skip plain old FM and do something far more impressive — like make the iPod compatible with an Apple-branded satellite broadcasting system (iRadio?). Throw recording capabilities and a scheduling function that works like Apple’s On-The-Go playlist feature (choose an upcoming programming block, press and hold the Select button, and the iPod records that block for later playback) and you’ve pantsed any other player and its puny FM tuner.
Could it happen? Not without clearing a mess of hurdles.
Hurdle 1 is that Apple is determined to keep the iPod simple. If the device can’t do something in a couple of clicks, it won’t be done at all and creating an elegant interface for satellite broadcasts may not be a simple matter.
Hurdle 2 is subscriptions. Apple has been averse to subscription services and subscriptions are the life-blood of satellite radio.
Hurdle 3 is licensing. With the RIAA doing its best to keep consumers from copying CDs, how likely is it to sit passively by while a portable device makes digital copies of satellite programming?
Will radio grace my next iPod? Not without the proper alignment of the stars (and satellites).