«ma dove finiranno le rese degli apparecchi HD invenduti?» Il fatto che con HD Radio sia possibile trasmettere diversi programmi sullo stesso canale è una falsa soluzione. Proprio come all'inizio degli anni novanta la radio satellitare ci sembrava destinata a diventare una moda nel futuro, «il tempo della tecnologia HD è arrivato e se ne è già andato. Il futuro è dei dispositivi mobili WiFi che permettono ai loro proprietari di accedere agli stream via Internet ovunque si trovino. Il futuro non è rappresentato da una manciata di stazioni in una determinata città ma da un flusso praticamente infinito di programmi selezionabili in tutto il mondo.»
Il problema, in conclusione, è che sono cambiati i canali di distribuzione dei contenuti apprezzati dal pubblico. Che è il pubblico stesso a controllare questi canali, perché il sistema di distribuzione coincide con quella che Del Colliano chiama "Internet del popolo". La radio deve capire che non si affronta una situazione di questo tipo moltiplicando i formati e la densità dei programmi disponibili in uno spettro di frequenze. Mai come oggi «less is more».
Best Buy is going to carry HD radios in all of its U.S. stores. Wal-Mart has already agreed to do the same. Radio Shack was the first major coast-to-coast retailer that sold HD radios and yet the shameless promotion of this useless technology continues with no progress in changing the world of radio. I think of all the topics I cover the issue of HD radio is the most amazing to me. Surely the proponents know that adopting HD technology and forcing consumers to buy new sets is going down in flames. Terrestrial radio is not even a hot item right now -- on a car radio! It’s not even worth making bold predictions over — Best Buy or not — no one wants HD radio. It's dead on arrival (DOA).
The radio industry got caught in its own greed over the issue. After all, they coveted having more channels on which to program more formats. The only problem is that radio owners don’t want to spend the money to launch new formats the right way. In fact, most owners — and especially the public companies — are on a tight leash for cutting expenses over existing formats. The improved digital sound quality was always the elephant in the room. These broadcasters were not about to invest in new equipment only to give their listeners better fidelity. So radio has been snagged — caught in the act of trying to co-opt itself into more stations. But a funny thing happened on the way to creating more stations — the ones they already owned in the analog world were losing listeners. So you’d think that the industry would stop trying to make a big deal out of Best Buy, Wal-Mart and all the other big box stores agreeing to stock HD radios.
Big box retailers have learned that stocking CDs didn’t mean a profit — they were loss leaders to get customers into their stores. Big box retailers get to return the CDs they can’t sell to the record labels. In the case of HD, who gets the unsold radios back? Just as satellite radio technology seemed to be the wave of the future in the early 90’s when it was adopted, HD technology’s time has also come and gone. The future is WiFi enabled mobile devices that allow consumers to carry around Internet streams everywhere they go. The future is not a handful of stations in a given city, but an almost endless stream of program choices from almost everywhere in the world. In the past radio owners like their brethren record labels controlled the delivery system for their services and products. That’s the part that they just don’t seem to get. Now the consumer controls the delivery system and it's the people’s Internet — the one innovation that has changed our world more than anything else. HD radio, by comparison, is too small, too late and too, well, 90’s.
When HD proponents take a few more black eyes they may be forced to realize that HD is not the future. It’s simple a technical way to make existing audio sound better and allow for the creation of more sidebands that they would be wise NOT TO use. This is one time that I think the phrase "less is more" is apt.