Cellular providers try radio

In yet another "new media" development--they seem to come almost daily--Cingular is going to offer a $6.99/month radio service that works with certain cellphones. It is an interesting offering, since lots of people have cellphones (yes, most of them don't work with this service yet).

It is hard to triangulate how this might work out; broadcast radio could be affected, but satellite radio providers may be harder hit, where the higher price and the need for dedicated satellite radio devices make it a tougher sell. For me, I'd have to wonder about the quality, given that my cellphone often sounds awful even when standing in clear view of a tower.

In a larger context, this is part of the continuing Betamax-VHS battle between Internet wireless and the cellphone industry. Technically, Internet wireless is a better platform that can provide more and better quality now, and can grow substantially in quality and performance in the future. But the industry itself is deeply fragmented, with many under-capitalized providers and a lack of infrastructure.

On the cellphone side, the technology is mediocre at best, but there are only a few players with very deep pockets, who have already made massive infrastructure investments and have a revenue stream from phone service to help pay for new services. Who will win? I'd prefer wireless Internet, but today, I'm not optimistic.

Technology News: