HD’s New, Improved Snake Oil

Interesting post here from John Gorman on his GormanMedia blog way back when, which seems all too apropos given the latest from Bob Struble. The new “swag,” or unvarnished hooplah, from iBiquity hints that Apple may be hopping on the HD radio “train” (which one wag on the info-com discussion board redefines as “jumping on board the HD lawn tractor”). This appears to be the latest in a long line of carny-shill ploys by the IBOC crowd. As John noted back in 2008:

The HD Digital Radio Alliance capo Peter “Sgt. Bilk-o” Ferrara proclaimed his planted tale to be a sign that Steve Jobs was essentially endorsing HD Radio. In reality, he wanted his latest fabrication to spread to the mainstream press.

It didn’t.

Considering the Alliance’s track record, you have to wonder if everyone associated with the HD Radio scam feels like the Snidely Whiplash cartoon character. Curses, foiled again!

The swag then — the media plants — had everybody jumping on board pursuant to a hyped poll. (“Which of the following next-gen add-on features most interests you?” Harmless enough — until you read the following line: “Currently, HD Radio is leading the poll with 29% of the vote.”)

But Google Trends, which measures site traffic, showed the HD Radio Alliance’s claims to be false. Did the Alliance believe that no one would probe their implausible claims? The best one comes at the expense of consultant and paid iBiquity HD Radio shill Fred Jacobs. This isn’t a new story, as such, but it makes one wonder what the ulterior motive was. Here’s a tale of two research studies, one of which was supposed to vanish into thin air — but didn’t….

You see, it started when a new (click here) 41-question survey about HD Radio from Jacobs for iBiquity was mentioned in a Radio-info.com forum on October 31. Almost immediately, the original survey vanished and was replaced by this sanitized 16-question version. We have soooo many questions to ask of this ethical titan.

So who pulled your original HD Radio survey — and why? Was the original survey a plot to kick Bilk-o replacement Lyin’ Diane Warren to the curb? One would think that any research expert — even a self-proclaimed one — would never put a survey into into the field unless it was a finished product. Or was it a finished product that iBiquity CEO Bob “Booble” Struble and the HD Digital Radio Alliance had to unfinish at your expense? Here’s the facts, Fred. The economy’s so bad even Dollar Stores are being robbed.

Come 2009, fewer radio groups will be able to justify and afford to renew licensing deals with iBiquity and more than a few HD Radio stations could go dark. The radio industry has to concentrate on the main product — the stations that can be listened to — not the ones that can’t.

Yes, Fred. It’s dead.

And here’s some free advice for iBiquity. Do what you know best. The only way you’ll ever make real money is to invent a pay-per-lie service.

Cue rimshot. Now the new swag has Apple and Steve Jobs all gaga over HD, but the info-com commenters aren’t buying it outa the box. Some of the comments:

As it turns out, Apple files a LOT of patents for a LOT of things that it never produces.

It would be an excellent match with the iPhone. After all, it’s on a network that doesn’t work too. HD would be in great company!

I can’t see anyone jumping on this train unless there’s a real financial incentive. Surely the technical limitations (modulation efficiency, outdated codec, and interference) are apparent to any potential partner who does their research.

The real question is, if HD rolled out in their phones and mp3 players, what would win out — the turtleneck-sweatered groupies who fawn over anything Apple does as genius, or the horrible technical deficiencies of the HD digital chipset?

In other words, could Apple make HD “cool”?  Cheesy

Well, as it turns out, it isn’t even new swag:

The Internet is full of half-truths that people don’t bother to check out. The patent application under discussion (20100150276 A1) was filed February 19, 2009.

It clearly describes an “accessory” to a media player. “This disclosure relates generally to radio transmissions, and more specifically to RF tuner accessories that communicate with a media player such as a portable media device (‘PMD’)”

It is a follow-on patent application to “HD Tagging in an RF Tuner Accessory,” by the same inventors, filed December 14, 2008. That’s iTunes tagging — the radio receiver “accessory” and the iPhone/iPod PMD.  iTunes tagging in actual hardware was introduced in January 2008 at MacWorld, and you have a year to file the patent after the first public “enabling disclosure.”

What the later patent concerns is enhanced modes of interaction between the “accessory” and the PMD.

It’s already “on the shelf.”  It’s iTunes tagging.

Furthermore, patents are also used for defensive purposes, e.g., against prospective features for the Zune.


3 Responses

  1. “The Dark Secret iBiquity Doesn’t Want You to Know”

    “Hot in the news is a new patent application from Apple for what has been portrayed as HD Radio capability in iPods or possibly even iPhones. What’s left out of the news is one important point: We’re talking about an accessory here — not a core functional piece of the iPod hardware. That’s abundantly clear from the title of Apple’s application and completely missed by most of the radio industry trades.”


  2. A couple of other things: adding HD Radio directly in ANY device would limit sales to the U.S. (as with the failed Zune HD because HD Radio is pretty much nonexistent outside the U.S.- supposedly, a couple of smaller contries have approved it, but I would even question those claims), the HD Radio chipset is a power-hog, reception is generally horrible, royalties would have to be paid to iBiquity, and analog FM tuners in cell phones is set to become the global standard. Did I miss anything? LOL!

  3. Radio Inc, which was involved in the first round of hoaxes two years ago, got really burned this time, as Eric Rhoads even claimed that the new iPod Nano has HD Radio tagging, which is false because it has an analog tuner with tagging:


    Eric is also famous for his Big Red insignia hoax, where he claimed that iBiquity special ordered the portable, then Eric sold thousands (obviously, to radio industry folks, not the general public):


    “The first casualty of HD Radio: truth. The second: reputations of those who should know better.”

    Bob Savage

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