Here's an interesting article. It appears that content rules, as always, but that the average Joe also understands audio quality, beyond the simple mono vs stereo concepts. So in the UK, it appears Eureka is for the time being successful mostly in homes rather than cars, and the content appeals to the graying generation. (To make links work in my posts, please remove any "2D" or "3D" characters that follow immediately after an =3D (equals) sign. (Which will probably also appear in this instruction.) Bert ------------------------------- Digital radio hits home in England By Junko Yoshida , EE Times July 09, 2004 (2:19 PM EDT) URL: http://www.eet.com/article/showArticle.jhtml?articleId=3D22104615 Paris - While digital audio broadcast has thus far had little impact on England's cars, it appears to be capturing that nation's hearth. Tuning in to vintage comedies and re-run dramas in their kitchens, little old ladies and baby boomers contradict the conventional wisdom - indeed, the near unanimous view of the engineering community - that car radios would become the killer app to catapult digital audio broadcast to success. Instead, cost considerations, clear reception and specialized programming are creating an audience for digital audio broadcast (DAB) in the cozier confines of the home. Take Dot Perry, 78. Dot lives in a retirement home in Rugby, Warwickshire, in the English Midlands and has had her digital-broadcast radio since last Christmas. "I just love the clarity of the sound," she said. "It's so much clearer that I don't need to use my hearing aid." Her favorite programs include classical music, dramas and plays and current-events discussions. Ross Silver, a 57-year-old sales trainer living in the London suburbs, has two DAB receivers - one in his kitchen and another in the living room. "I have two so that I don't have to miss a show when I go back and forth between the two rooms," he said. Silver bought the receivers for himself and his wife as a Christmas gift in 2002, "when the price was right - under 100 pounds." With his receivers, Silver listens to old comedies, like the "Goon Show," that are only available on BBC7, a digital-broadcast channel. "Although I am a bit old to be a rock fan," he said, I also like 'Planet Rock,' " another program not offered on regular FM radio. Silver also depends on DAB to listen to sports. Although the sports channels provide basically the same programming as AM stations, "they come in a much clearer sound quality. We all love that," he said. In sum, "guaranteed, interference-free quality" and a "choice" of programming are the reasons Silver is a big digital broadcast fan, he said. After years of struggle since its market introduction in 1998, Europe's terrestrial digital radio - based on the Eureka 147 system developed by an international consortium - is evolving from niche product to mass consumer item. Digital audio broadcast radio receiver sales in the U.K. alone this year are projected at a million units. Fledgling digital radio broadcast operators in the United States - whether XM Satellite Radio, Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. or iBiquity Digital Corp. - all continue to focus on penetrating the automotive market, paying little attention to radio listeners at home. But the U.K's kitchen trend suggests that U.S. digital broadcasters might be aiming their signals at the wrong antennas. One of the original design goals for the Eureka 147 system - and for that matter, any other satellite or terrestrial digital radio specifications developed in the United States - was to assure that the new spec could handle the challenge of receiving signals in a fast-moving vehicle while coping with complex echoes and signal-fading conditions. "We all thought the mobility of this technology was the breakthrough," said Rebecca Dorta, project director of the World DAB Project Office based in London. But in reality, she notes, "a majority of people listen to the radio at home." In the U.K., 45 percent of listeners are at home, Dorta said, but only 14 percent in automobiles. Mandy Green, spokesperson for the Digital Radio Development Bureau, a trade body funded by the BBC and commercial radio multiplex operators to promote digital audio broadcasting in the U.K., acknowledged that less than 5 percent of the digital receivers sold so far in the U.K. were car radios. "It's a very insignificant number." Europeans, of course, did their level best to crack the car radio market with Eureka 147. But the digital car audio market had "a bumpy start," said Andrew Moloney, marketing manager of receivers at RadioScape, a U.K.-based software-defined radio technology company. RadioScape, which is designing a family of DAB/FM modules using a Texas Instruments DSP, is entering the car audio market this week after years of developing and marketing cost-effective digital broadcast software/hardware solutions for kitchen radios and radio clock alarms. But Moloney takes no credit for his company's foresight. RadioScape decided to head for the kitchen rather than car audio simply because the company was too small to pursue more than one market segment at a time. With 20/20 hindsight, many in digital audio broadcast can explain that the car radio market is the most difficult place to start building a broad base of digital radio listeners and a volume digital radio receiver market. First, there's the long process of convincing carmakers to include digital radio as a line-fit option. The after-sale market for digital radio receivers in cars is equally difficult, since it means installing not just a new receiver but a new antenna as well. Moreover, it's not easy to get a car salesman excited about digital radio when all he wants to do is sell a car. The car radio market is also complicated by the technology of radio antennas, RadioScape's Moloney said. A high-quality antenna used for FM car radios often comes with its own amplifier to enhance FM signal reception. Some of those temperamental antennas, it turned out, "were trashing the DAB signals - they saw digital signals as noise," Moloney explained. To resolve the issue for car audio suppliers, a RadioScape DAB/FM receiver module launching this week carries a special provision to address the amplifier problem. The high cost of car radios is another problem, notes the World DAB Project's Dorta. A DAB kitchen radio today costs under 100 euros, she said, while the high spec'd DAB car audio, including its fitting cost, is about 420 euros. DAB user Silver, although he has a car and drives it often, does not have a DAB car radio. "I can't justify the cost," he said. "Maybe when I buy my next car." Still, the Digital Radio Development Bureau estimates late 2004 and early 2005 for the birth of the DAB car audio market. The booming consumer market, combined with lower prices for the digital receivers, is helping to overcome the automakers' resistance to Eureka 147-based receivers. "The auto manufacturers now see the home DAB market as proof for DAB being a mass market and that it's here to stay," said Moloney. For any new digital broadcast standards to take off - whether TV or radio - the broadcast industry and equipment vendors need to meet three basic requirements: broader signal coverage, differentiated programming and cheaper hardware. And while the DAB market in Europe, particularly in the U.K., appears to have figured this out, the situation in the United States diverges widely - in technologies, business models and market focus. The U.S. terrestrial digital radio broadcast based on iBiquity's HD Radio, for example, is designed to enable AM and FM radio stations to broadcast their programs digitally. Satellite digital radio broadcasters like Sirius and XM Radio are focused on subscription-based services. Michelle Abraham, senior analyst for research house In-Stat/MDR (Scottsdale, Ariz.), acknowledged that all the U.S. digital radio operators are "targeting the car first." Both XM and Sirius have investments from auto manufacturers, she said. "XM, for example, allows GM customers to roll their subscription into their monthly [car] payment." In-Stat/MDR's Abraham doesn't think the U.S. digital radio industry is going after the wrong market. "I think they are on the right track." Because the first of these digital radios is still expensive, she said, "the cost is easier to absorb in the car, so I don't think it's the hardest to enter." But even in the United States, listening locations for regular radios are almost equally split among home, car and workplace, although they shift dramatically depending on the time of day. According to a report this year by Arbitron Inc., 39.9 percent of the nation's weekday, 6 to 10 a.m. radio audience is listening at home, compared with 35.2 percent in cars and 23.6 percent at work. Those who pioneered the home DAB market are taking steps toward the day when a digital radio becomes a personal audio recorder, just as personal video recorders have been developed for TV. Indeed, many digital broadcast listeners are already hooked on a feature that displays the title of the music being played, the artist and a Web site or further information. Praising this feature, Silver said, "Once you have it, you just don't want to give it up." By offering support for an electronic programming guide and the ability to simultaneously decode up to three channels on the same multiplex system in RadioScape's next-generation DAB module, "We are only taking our software-defined radio to the next logical level," said Moloney. RadioScape's advanced digital radio module, launched this week along with a separate automotive module, will feature a direct interface with MultiMedia Card (MMC) and Secure Digital (SD) removable memory cards, as well as a USB connection. It will enable audio transfer to a PC and allow the PC to control the receiver. Chip vendors offering the DAB solution include RadioScape/TI; Frontier Silicon with Imagination Technology; Atmel, Sonarics and Panasonic. A growing list of consumer electronics companies jumping into the digital receiver market includes Sony, Panasonic, Sanyo, Samsung, JVC and LG Electronics, joining Hitachi TEACs, Grundig and Philips, which were already in the market. The World DAB Project's Dorta said that the latest Eureka Research report projects 40 million DAB receivers in Europe by the end of 2010. That translates into a $1.31 billion market opportunity for DAB radio receiver makers, she said. Copyright 2003 CMP Media ---------------------------------------------------------------------- You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways: - Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at FreeLists.org - By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word unsubscribe in the subject line.