Instant Radio Feedback From Your Cell Phone
January 14, 2005

Nokia is set to introduce mobile phone technology that allows listeners to send instant feedback on songs to radio stations, as well as compete in contests. The new phones will have what is called "visual radio" capabilities, according to a Financial Times report. The new technology lets stations send information directly to listeners' mobile phone screens during a song, ranging from a picture of the artist to polls asking the listener to rate the song. Replies are instantaneously sent back to the station.

The first station to test the new technology will be Kiss FM in Finland in early March. Virgin Radio in the UK will follow later in the Spring. Cell phones with built in radios are becoming increasingly common. Globally, 15 percent of mobile phones sold come with a radio tuner built-in.

Radio stations can also use the technology to sell listeners a ringtone version of the song, concert tickets, CDs, or DVDs. James Cridland of Virgin Radio said to Financial Times, "Radio is a great medium for emotion and immediacy. But if you can make it more permanent - keeping a telephone number on a mobile screen for example - it can be much more powerful."

The new technology could even lead to a new way of measuring a station's listening audience. "For the first time radio advertising can become measurable," Nokia's Reidar Wasenius told Financial Times. "This is a potential disrupter to the music industry business model. Rather than radio stations being paid rates based on the estimated number of listeners, they could pay stations based on how many copies of a song they sold. Radio stations could become more like retailers."

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Mark Adams
San Francisco

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