Feeds

DAB growth turns negative

Flat lining

Top three mobile application threats

Sales of DAB radio have reached an unwelcome landmark, figures published this week reveal. Sales fell 10 per cent in the final quarter of 2008, compared to 2007, Ominously, this is the first ever quarter of year-on-year negative growth since DAB sales figures were first published six years ago.

The brutal year-end retail environment saw sales of consumer electronics fall across the board, prompting the DAB marketing lobby group DRDB to declare that "DAB Radio weathers the retail storm at Christmas", in a press release yesterday. Yet what the release didn't say is that all the growth was in the earlier months - full 12 month sales were only 3 per cent up on 2007, and the landmark negative final quarter didn't merit a mention in the release.

This caused some confusion for the Guardian newspaper, which even in its haste to re-write the marketing lobby's press release, couldn't decide whether the news was good or bad.

What's not in doubt is that 2008 ended far short of forecasts. In 2004, the DRDB predicted last year would close with the cumulative total of sets sold in the UK at 13.1m. At the start of the year, this was predicted to be a more modest 9 million. In fact, 2008 ended with 8m sets sold to date, with 2m added in the year - the same as 2007.

The DRDB no longer issues long range forecasts of sales.

The future isn't what it used to be

What does this mean for the bigger picture - the penetration of DAB into households and cars, and where does this leave the mix of analog and digital?

Well, sales of analog radio sets fell 7 per cent, according to the DRDB. But it's a long, hard slog to get to 30 per cent household penetration - and the 50 per cent figure is now a long way in the distance. As DAB becomes more of a bore and less of a draw (it's no longer a novelty, and as stations are pulled, there's less choice of listening), manufacturers must increasingly rely on unrelated features, such as smuggling DAB into an iPod dock or speakers. (You'll find a few examples here, at Reg Hardware). That's a nice idea, but it also means DAB is increasingly viewed as an optional feature of another product category, and that in turn means it's less likely to be viewed as a straight replacement for the old FM radio in your kitchen or the bathroom.

Making headway in cars or on mobile phones would help enormously, but because DAB is such an antiquated technology, that's another uphill battle.

Meanwhile Niall, taking issue of our use of "DABetamax", writes:

Mr Orlowski,   I am slightly confused by your use of the term Betamax here.  Is it that you believe DAB to be the technologically superior option pummelled by the marketing of a lower quality rival?  I certainly see no evidence of this in your article.  I shall be cancelling my subscription forthwith and... (cont. p91)

Concerned of Tumbridge Wells

Point taken. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.