In response to a post by Mark Ramsey on Hear 2.0 (Who is Kagan Research Talking To?), Stephen Hill writes:
Your observations about the strange disconnect between industry spin and the realities HD radio is facing are all correct, but you politely stop short of the obvious conclusion: HD is DOA. ¶ The only reason it has gotten this far is that such an amazing amount of time and money has been invested in it by iBiquity, with support from radio industry stakeholders and receiver manufacturers. ...
Link: Stephen Hill: Spatial Relations. I've made a number of posts linking to Mark Ramsey's thoughts on "HD Radio." Because they're consistently skeptical about the technology's economic future, I've looked for "balancing" analyses, but have found nothing that's not spun by stakeholders. Unless you count CDs and iPods as "radio innovations" (one can make a good disruptive case for that), there really hasn't been one that took hold economically since FM stereo circa 1961, and even that took quite a few years. So the best case I can make is that we're overdue for one that does catch hold and that the "HD Radio" (just can't bring myself to type HD without the quotation marks) transmitters we're buying today will be well into their life cycles before it does -- if it does. Do I want it to work? Yes, of course. Am I working to make it work. Sure. Will I be retired (nominally 2012 or 2013) before it pays off? Pretty good chance of that.
So is my friend Stephen right that it's DOA? I don't think we can know that at this point even though his analysis and Ramsey's ring uncomfortably true. In 1962, we had finicky outboard stereo converters kludged onto mostly non-cooperative mono FM receivers -- receivers that in many markets could get only one or two stations. When I came to my current job in 1978, only 30% of the listening in this market was to FM. But it eventually came around. Mark and Stephen are very bright guys, but I also know some other smart guys who are betting on it working (however optimistic their timeframes may be). And I've personally done work in the program-associated data area, much of which is hardly touched in the current generation of receivers. If "HD" is going to work, we need patience, some advanced features beyond the ones we now have that are implied in the mark-up language, some smart business thinking about multicasting and PAD features -- and some luck. Oh, and a better name. --Dennis