Thursday, July 10, 2008

Who is watching Motorola's threat to the music industry?

What seems to be a long time ago (Computer Shopper, January 2003) this interesting article educated us about a new set of chips from Motorola call the Symphony Digital Radio Chipset. The radio industry is supposed to be shifting to a digital format, but can't agree on standards. Digital radio should lead to higher quality signals and reception. Sensing an opportunity, Motorola developed the SDRC chip set, which takes in the current analog radio signals and digitizes the signal at the radio wave level. Nothing big in doing this (except maybe for doing so and having a reasonably priced chip set), but the chip set also has circuitry to clean up the signal (for example, interference noise you get with all radio signals, and reliably boosting weak signals, etc.). Thus much of the benefits of digital radio can be achieved with the current radio system. The article predicts two effects. First, sales of radios using Motorola's chip set could negatively impact the satellite radio industry, for which signal quality was an important selling feature. Second, there will be people selling plug-in boards to personal computers which make use of the Motorola chip set, so you can turn your PC into an ever better radio receiver. And of course, it will be easy to capture, store and burn songs being broadcasted by the radio stations. No need for P2P for the popular songs that the music industry really cares about (and for which the P2P advocates are really interested in stealing). Some interesting technology, and a host of legal implications to track.

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