iPod Nano with radio integration: too little too late?

I will confess, I haven’t thought about the radio much in the last few years. The only station I listen to in my car is an all-Classical station that doesn’t play commercials. When I’m not listening to WCPE, I’ve got my iPod Shuffle out and, most importantly, I have complete control over what I listen to.

On the rare instances I have been subjected to mainstream radio, I’m rather astonished at the commercials, the horrid voice-over advertising (GIGANTIC MERCHANDISE BLOWOUT!), and rather unimpressive selection of music. It’s become so consolidated over the years that the idea of little independent radio stations in local areas has nearly vanished. It’s virtually impossible to find non-syndicated stations that have any modicum of originality. Smart local folks, like Clockwork Cabaret here in North Carolina–a steampunk music menagerie–both stream and broadcast. Clever!

Now, for a brief time, I had XM Radio. Admittedly, I loved it. But then came the Sirius merger, and I lost half the stations I really enjoyed and couldn’t actually rationalize the extra cost, so I got rid of it. If I could have listened to the stations anywhere else than inside my car, that would have been a major plus. (For what it’s worth, there are plans in the works to Integrate iPod and Sirius radio.)

So I was rather surprised to see that the new iPod Nano includes a radio at all. It seems like this would have been the smart move, you know, a few years ago. As it is, it’s almost like including a bunch of envelopes and paper with a new email account. Over the last ten years, the radio has been fazed out of our musical lexicon. We’re so used to being in total control of our music these days that the radio feature just feels painfully dated. Not to mention that programs like Last.fm and Pandora are far better at suggesting new music than a radio can ever be.

Sure, the new Nano comes with tagging capabilities (for stations that are iTunes compatible), and a host of other well-touted improvements (video, camera, Nike Plus integration) but the radio just seems plain weird to me. While the Nano isn’t compatible with Pandora, for instance, the iPod Touch is. So, for an extra $50, I’d just go with the latter and skip out on the Nano altogether.





14 Responses to iPod Nano with radio integration: too little too late?

  1. Before I even thought about owning an iPod, I had a Nomad II from Creative which had a radio included. It was back in the day when you could hold only about 20 songs. When I was on the road, 20 songs sometimes amounted to nothing and I eventually would start listening to local radio to see if I could find any interesting stuff. There was this time when I was in Cancun and I was able to pick up a station from Miami. Anyways, I doubt I'd care now if my iPod comes with a radio since I carry enough songs to keep me busy for at least 2 weeks. Sorry Apple, you came in a bit too late.

  2. Before I even thought about owning an iPod, I had a Nomad II from Creative which had a radio included. It was back in the day when you could hold only about 20 songs. When I was on the road, 20 songs sometimes amounted to nothing and I eventually would start listening to local radio to see if I could find any interesting stuff. There was this time when I was in Cancun and I was able to pick up a station from Miami. Anyways, I doubt I’d care now if my iPod comes with a radio since I carry enough songs to keep me busy for at least 2 weeks. Sorry Apple, you came in a bit too late.

  3. You're doing two things wrong with this idea: Thinking like a geek, and thinking like an American.

    If everybody in America really hated the radio, then radio would actually be out of business. Since it's still hanging on, clearly there is a decent size of the non-geek audience – the people I bet the nano is targetting – who still listen.

    More importantly though, Internationally there are still plenty of good radio stations. Here in Australia, the mainstream stations are all extremely popular (particularly with non-geeks) and we have a very good independent radio station sponsored by the government. You can even stream it over the internet if you want ;)
    http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/

    • I agree completely. While reading I was thinking…whoever's writing this, is probably american. I know at least 20 friends who never bought an ipod because it lacked the FM radio feature. Instead they bought a regular MP3 player which had it (at lower costs also). Here in Argentina people love radio…it's not just about music. It's also about listening the news, a soccer match, etcetera. And that's something you can't do with an older ipod…

      • I am American, yes. But, as I mentioned, one of the annoying things about radio in this country is that it's become absolutely conglomerated. Big companies own most stations, and they play the same songs, awful advertising, and basic news. There are a few exceptions, but most are available online. I'm glad to hear that the FM radio is still flourishing in other countries, and I think it's a good move–in that case–that Apple added this feature. One of the reasons I wrote the article was to get some other responses. :)

  4. You're doing two things wrong with this idea: Thinking like a geek, and thinking like an American.

    If everybody in America really hated the radio, then radio would actually be out of business. Since it's still hanging on, clearly there is a decent size of the non-geek audience – the people I bet the nano is targetting – who still listen.

    More importantly though, Internationally there are still plenty of good radio stations. Here in Australia, the mainstream stations are all extremely popular (particularly with non-geeks) and we have a very good independent radio station sponsored by the government. You can even stream it over the internet if you want ;)
    http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/

    • I agree completely. While reading I was thinking…whoever’s writing this, is probably american. I know at least 20 friends who never bought an ipod because it lacked the FM radio feature. Instead they bought a regular MP3 player which had it (at lower costs also). Here in Argentina people love radio…it’s not just about music. It’s also about listening the news, a soccer match, etcetera. And that’s something you can’t do with an older ipod…

      • I am American, yes. But, as I mentioned, one of the annoying things about radio in this country is that it’s become absolutely conglomerated. Big companies own most stations, and they play the same songs, awful advertising, and basic news. There are a few exceptions, but most are available online. I’m glad to hear that the FM radio is still flourishing in other countries, and I think it’s a good move–in that case–that Apple added this feature. One of the reasons I wrote the article was to get some other responses. :)

  5. Radio is far from being dead, I believe it's still going strong.

    The inclusion of FM radio in the Nano does come way too late and it makes me wonder why it wasn't implemented in the first place.

    • I don't think that radio is dead–just that, as you say, the Nano is too late. I think with the availability of the Internet, and the fact that we can listen to stations from anywhere now, is definitely giving new life to the old medium. (As I mentioned, smart, local stations are getting on that bandwagon.)

  6. Radio is far from being dead, I believe it’s still going strong.
    The inclusion of FM radio in the Nano does come way too late and it makes me wonder why it wasn’t implemented in the first place.

    • I don’t think that radio is dead–just that, as you say, the Nano is too late. I think with the availability of the Internet, and the fact that we can listen to stations from anywhere now, is definitely giving new life to the old medium. (As I mentioned, smart, local stations are getting on that bandwagon.)