If You're Trying To Unseat An Entrenched Technology, You Need To Offer Some Significant Improvements
from the but-I've-already-got-one dept
Despite the technological advances that constantly turn our heads, plenty of old technologies just keep hanging on, because they do a more than acceptable job, while their would-be replacements don’t offer enough improvement to justify additional expense or hassle. A case in point is FM radio. It’s ubiquitous, it’s effective, and it’s pretty cheap. The quality of the content it carries may be another matter, but the technology itself remains sound and in wide use, despite its age. But many countries are trying to supplant or replace analog radio with digital technology; in Europe, the DAB standard is popular, while in the US, there’s a format called HD Radio. Neither has really caught on with consumers, though, but it’s not hard to understand why: they don’t offer enough improvement over good ol’ FM. A big justification for HD Radio is the ability for broadcasters to charge listeners for access to their content, which isn’t exactly a strong user benefit.
But in the case of DAB, or at least its implementation in the UK, it sounds like digital radio is actually a step backwards from FM. Over at The Guardian’s technology blog, Jack Schofield compares the merits of DAB against internet radio, and comes down firmly on the internet radio side. It’s not hard to understand why, when he points out that the UK’s DAB system offers worse sound quality than FM, thanks to an inefficient codec, and from the sounds of things, fewer choices of stations. Leaving the digital-vs.-internet radio argument aside, why would people pony up for a new radio to replace their FM ones when it offers them a lesser experience? Technologies don’t get replaced in the market solely because they’re old, they get replaced when something that offers real improvements at a reasonable price comes along.