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The death of satellite radio?

The last few days I’ve been cruising around in my car listening to a selection of music on my iPhone that I haven’t paid for.  No, it’s not via some illicit P2P network.  Rather, I’ve been using two streaming services — last.fm and Flycast — to deliver high quality music over the 3G network to my phone.  Both work remarkably well anywhere that 3G data is available.

To hear a selection of music similar to my tastes, I simply turn on last.fm on the iPhone, and start it playing.  Based on information it has previously obtained from my music library at home, it finds and plays similar music.  If I like something I’m listening to, I can reach over and tap the screen to get more like it. If I dislike, similarly I can tell last.fm to ignore others from that artist.

Flycast is an internet radio application.  Again over 3G, it lets me tune into a wide selection of internet radio stations.  For the last couple of days I’ve been indulging in a little nostalgia and listening to KMTT “The Mountain” in Seattle.  I really miss the Mountain Music Lounge.  I’ve been revelling in their great live accoustic performances while driving the kids here and there.

Both of these services are simple software downloads for iPhone.  In contrast, our  satellite radio is a daunting bucket of hardware that needs to be installed in the vehicle.  I still haven’t done it. It was easier to just plug the iPhone into the AUX port in the car and start listening.

image Is there room for satellite radio in a world of ubiquitous 3G and devices like the iPhone? Net radio stations are still figuring out the business model, but it seems only a matter of time until the “radio” is simply a piece of music selector software loaded onto a device like iPhone.

And in the meantime, I’m thankful to be free of Ottawa’s endless Classic Rock stations.

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{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Martin Hofmann October 27, 2008, 6:15 am

    What's the sound quality like when you listen to Internet radio through your iPhone that's plugged into the car stereo?

  • Alec October 27, 2008, 7:04 am

    Martin — my car came with an AUX port in the sound system specifically for the purpose of plugging a portable audio player in. Flycast buffers up to 2 minutes of audio, and the bandwidth it uses is considerably less than Rogers 3G can supply. I'm guessing that they're streaming a 128K or better stream. All in all, the audio quality is at least as good as the FM radio I'd be listening to otherwise.

  • Louis Rochon October 27, 2008, 5:06 pm

    Despite my being deep in all sorts of technologies, I still listen to FM radio in the car. The audio quality is good enough given the environment, and there is hardly any need to twiddle with gizmos while I drive.

  • Elliot Ross October 28, 2008, 3:28 pm

    Forget the quality!

    What about the data transfer fees??

  • Alec October 28, 2008, 4:35 pm

    I’ve never exceeded 1G in a month!

  • Jacob Patel May 20, 2010, 10:26 pm

    i think satellite radio did not gain so much popularity these days.;~”

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