Apple patent could change how radio broadcasts are handled

And off again, if a user decides the ads are too much to bear.

Patent wars are becoming more and more prevalent in the modern technology industry. Samsung and Apple, two of the biggest players in the mobile industry, have been slugging away at each other for quite some time now, and it's all down to patents.

One patent Apple holds could be a death-blow to conventional radio. Filed on October 14th, 2011, the patent would allow you to skip the ads in radio. It isn't like an ad-blocker, so much as a skipper. With a webpage the ads appear alongside the content you want to see. With a radio it comes in a linear succession of music and advertising.

Apple's patent concerns "seamless switching between a media broadcast and a media library". In other words: the music stored on your device, and the music you're listening to from elsewhere. It's a very interesting patent, since it could damage conventional radio.

If ads have appeared in the broadcast you can switch to some MP3s instead. Ad over? Back to the radio you can go. The radio broadcast would return uninterrupted when it was all sorted and you'd be none the wiser to the transition. Nor would the radio host and providers, which could be significant.

Absolute Radio already has been doing this, with something called InStream. Yet it's safe to assume that Absolute Radio's offering would not receive the same press as Apple's. This could be a killer change if it is taken to the extreme. While you might not listen to the radio on your phone, those who do could strip it right back to music and nothing else.

The explanation of what exactly this is patenting is written in a sort of legalese manner:

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. 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.

If Absolute Radio has already been offering this then there's the question of whether Apple's patent on it will stick. Depending on different factors the two simply might be too similar to give the patent to one group over another. Either way, Apple could change the radio industry; at a stretch, on the same level as the iTunes Store contributed to changing the music industry.

Source: Media UK
Apple Patent: Patent Office
On Air image via Shutterstock
Thanks for the tip, Suraj.Sun!

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14 Comments

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Steve Jobs probably bumped into Guglielmo Marconi in hell and got his nose out of joint when he discovered what being a true innovator meant. He probably relayed his instructions to go thermonuclear on radio to Tim Cook by ouija board.

Jelly2003 said,
IMO Apple probably would like to kill radio and get you all buying music via iTunes and using their recommendation engines.
Well since the radio stole playing music via an electronic device/service from Apple. I think Steve was also quoted in saying he would destroy radio at any cost.

This patent is dumb to no end. First off, the broadcast company would have to send a digital signal (hint: most radio is analog) that tells the device that it's going to commercial and returning from a commercial. Now what company in their right mind would do that willingly?

Also, this only works if you're listening to the radio on your phone. So the car radio it out which means this is only a die-hard fanboy fad.

One thing is for sure: there are too many damn patents on things. Particular in the tech world it seems or maybe it's just that I follow tech news more. I dunno. It's just getting out of hand that everyone is poised and waiting with a team of lawyers if you get too close to the line. It's madness and needs an overhaul.

This patent nonsense crap must be stopped. NO PATENTS PERIOD. nobody should be permitted a patent. heck, even the word "Patent" should not exist.

Oh pleaseee end up having a judge just say f*** you Apple Instream already has the patent. STFU or buy it from them, you have more $ than they do, so you'll outlast them in court and win (wow our court system is ****ed up). I use to be a huge fan of Apple, but as of late.. f*** it.
Written from my '08 MBP.

They probably got the patent to stop others from doing it, can't see why they'd implement it nor how much code it'd take plus the % of mistakes.

Voice of Buddy Christ said,
iHeart Radio already does that. They're asking for a lawsuit from Clear Channel.

psh no, Clear Channel Communications is asking for a lawsuit from Apple... and they will sue them for not signing an agreement with them even though there was prior art and go after them for "damages"

Voice of Buddy Christ said,
iHeart Radio already does that. They're asking for a lawsuit from Clear Channel.

No, since Apple has the patent, Clear Channel will be the one sued. Patent system is messed up. Doesnt matter if what the patent covers was implemented already.

techbeck said,

No, since Apple has the patent, Clear Channel will be the one sued. Patent system is messed up. Doesnt matter if what the patent covers was implemented already.

Prior art is grounds for invalidation of the patent.

rfirth said,

Prior art is grounds for invalidation of the patent.

Do you think that matters anymore in the eyes of lawyers? drag the company through the mud and cost them tons of money first before that is "discovered"

"When an electronic device determines that an upcoming media item in a media broadcast is not of interest to a user"

And the device will know this how?

"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."

"The radio broadcast would return uninterrupted when it was all sorted and you'd be none the wiser to the transition. Nor would the radio host and providers, which could be significant."

So I get a song from the radio, then a 30 second snippet of a locally stored song whilst the ad is playing and then back to the radio.