A lot of broadcasters at the recently concluded Radio Show thought so. Before you agree, better look at how much a listener is going to pay.
A story in this month’s PC World points out how quickly a smartphone can run up against data plan limits.
According to the author, streaming Pandora consumes about 24MB an hour.
If you’ve got AT&T’s $15 200MB plan and you’ve maxed out your plan watching Hulu or YouTube, uploading pictures to your Facebook account, or sending emails with your latest Hipstamatic creation, listening to Pandora is going to cost you $1.80 an hour, a little less if you use their lower quality settings.
Smartphone radio listening during the daily commute could cost more than the Starbuck’s Iced Latte you picked up on the way.
When Pandora recently eliminated the 40 hour per month limit on free listening, many users cheered, but they must not have been 3G listeners. Now Pandora will allow you to spend up to $320 on their "free" plan.
If your boss won’t let you use the company WiFi to listen during the day (many companies are starting to ban Pandora in the office because it chokes networks), you could rack up $200 a month using your smartphone at work.
If you’re smart and sign up for the $45 4GB plan and watch no videos, upload no pictures, and otherwise minimize your data consumption, you’ll be able to listen to streamed radio up to 140 hours a month and not incur any data overage costs. That's not much more than four hours a day.
That’s more than the typical person listens to radio now, but who can resist the occasional YouTube or Hulu video? Who can resist the occasional download or email attachment?
If the smartphone does become the Swiss Army knife of information and entertainment, are people really going to spend their bytes on radio when they can get it for free?
AT&T provides a useful online tool to estimate how much data you are going to consume. Give it a try and see what you come up with.
The notion that soon we’ll all be watching Netflix movies, playing games, listening to the radio, and placing video calls from our smartphones assumes that data rates are going to go down, but the opposite is happening.
One by one, the carriers are eliminating unlimited plans. Most people are going to have to budget their data and watch their consumption.
The bottom line is that the belief that most listeners will switch from broadcast to streaming is a pipe dream. But AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint hope you’re right.