Patent News | "Apple patent could spell the end for conventional radio broadcasts"

By: Macworld Australia Staff
Category: Patent News

A patent filed and owned by Apple that allows users to skip ads on the radio, could spell the end for conventional radio broadcasting as we know it.

Lodged in October 2011, Apple patented a technology that skips ads aired on radio, enabling listeners to “seamlessly” switch between radio broadcasts and personal media libraries intermittently, according to a report from Neowin.

While the patent doesn’t block commercials as such, it effectively removes paid advertising from radio programs, causing problems for the industry’s ad sales and revenue.

In a radio broadcast when an ad airs, the patented technology would transition to the user’s media source and play content from its library. The result is that the listener is unaware of ad breaks in radio programs, privy to an uninterrupted stream of continuous music playback.

“Systems and methods are provided for seamlessly switching media playback between a media broadcast, such as a radio broadcast, and media from a local media library. When an electronic device determines that an upcoming media item in a media broadcast is not of interest to a user, the electronic device can switch playback from the media stream to a media item from the electronic device local library”, as outlined in Apple’s official patent.

“The selected local media item can be related to a previously broadcast media item to ensure continuity in the user’s listening or viewing experience. The electronic device can switch away from the local media item and return to the media stream when the media stream again broadcasts media items or segments of interest to the user.”

Apple is not the first company to develop the ‘switcher’ technology,  with other brands such as Absolute Radio employing similar methods in a small-scale product called InStream. While it’s not clear if Absolute Radio began offering their technology first,  Apple is not afraid to go to extreme lengths to protect its patents – a trait clearly demonstrated in the current Apple v Samsung trial in which Apple is seeking US$2.88 billion in damages from Samsung for allegedly copying its designs.

If Apple decides to incorporate the patent in its future products, the technology could have a detrimental effect on conventional radio and its profit streams, the same way iTunes has dominated the music industry.