Back in 1990, my wife and I went to Europe to explore the land of our forefathers (and foremothers) by car. The first thing I noticed when we got in our Audi rental was that it didn't have air conditioning. It was August; what were these people, barbarians?
Then I turned on the radio. The display had all this text information that identified songs and other stuff. Now that was cool. I was sure that, before long, American broadcasters would adopt similar technology.
Seventeen years later, I'm still waiting.
Last year I was asked to do a minuscule amount of consulting for iBiquity, the developer and exclusive licensor of digital radio technology in the U.S. I was dying to find out what had delayed my ability to identify a Jane's Addiction song on the radio, not to mention hear it in CD quality. Here's what I learned, but first, some background.
In 1991 CBS, Gannett (publisher of USA Today), and Westinghouse (which is now owned by Toshiba, in case you didn't know) formed USA Digital Radio Partners. I'm guessing it was some sort of joint venture. In 1998, a Westinghouse executive and former McKinsey consultant named Bob Struble led the company's spinoff with backing from a horde of broadcasting companies. Two years later, the company merged with Lucent Digital Radio and iBiquity Digital was born.
iBiquity calls its product "HD Radio." No, HD doesn't stand for high definition. It originally meant hybrid digital, but the company now claims that HD doesn't stand for anything. That's probably because it's easier to get a trade mark if the term is a name as opposed to a generic term. Intel did the same thing with MMX technology, which originally stood for multimedia extensions, although you couldn't get anyone at Intel to admit that now.… Read more