Yes…The Hazy Dust is clearing now. There they are — The Eight You-Saw-Them-Here-First Predictions For HD Radio in 2008:
1. Desperate for share-of-mind, HD Radios will be given away for free. Think cell phones, book & music clubs, AOL discs, and 0% auto financing. (but, will people want them?)
2. HD Radio will travel two forks in the road: Public and Talk Radio will lead with innovative programming on their HD-2 channels; HD taking the early steps toward becoming a new Information “band.” Simultaneously, HD-2 music channels will become the new Muzak, but very localized. Most sales will come from in-business fees and other non-conventional sponsorships.
3. Many stations won’t waste their time with HD-2 sub-brands, concentrating, instead, on promoting the advantages for their main, HD-1, Digital signal only.
4. A Democrat winning the White House in ’08 will ignite a creative opportunity for a new breed of Political Talk on HD-2’s, the second channel becoming a problem-solver, not an albatross.
5. If the number of sets grow, after-market applications will begin sneaking forward (a more logical and listener-friendly dial, grouping similar formats together, Cable-like interfaces, integration with Microsoft’s in-car Sync, etc.). That is a mighty big “IF.”
6. Equipment makers will put Radio on notice – Higher awareness of HD, better content, a heartbeat on the sales charts or HD Radio production lines will be shut down.
7. Ordering HD Radio as an equipment option in new cars will be a bust (see #1) . Moon roof or HD Radio? No brainer.
8. Two, perhaps three, major Radio groups will break away from the Alliance citing their desire to produce more relevant, ingenious, and compelling product than Alliance membership allows.
My Crystal Ball goes dark and blank when I look for HD Radio beyond 2008. Very dark. Very blank.