Is Apple Going Terrestrial?

Radio stations may soon have one less reason to hate Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) . New rumors suggest that the company is readying a built-in FM radio application for the iPhone.

Apple watcher 9to5Mac has received a tip from an unidentified source, claiming that the FM radio program will be able to run in the background on iPhone 3G, 3GS, and the latest iPod touch models.

If true, this wouldn't come as much of a surprise. Apple's entry-level nano now comes with an FM tuner, complete with the ability to pause live radio and tag songs to purchase later through iTunes.

The only odd thing about a full-blown FM rollout is that it would validate rivals Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) and SanDisk (Nasdaq: SNDK  ) , which have offered FM access for ages. Microsoft's newest Zune HD even tunes into HD Radio for a broader range of terrestrial programming.

Why would Apple introduce a feature that has already been topped by Microsoft?

Smartphone owners may also wonder why Apple thinks they even care about terrestrial radio. Some of its App Store's more popular music downloads include free music-discovery and Internet-radio faves Pandora and Yahoo!'s (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) Y! Music. Users can also pay for premium satellite radio through Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI  ) .  

So what's the difference here? Save for the Sirius app, which runs on the AT&T (NYSE: T  ) network, most of these apps require Wi-Fi connectivity to stream effectively. This forces commuters or joggers to dive into their iPod collections. Commercial-laden terrestrial radio may not be much of an upgrade, but it's an outlet for fresh content on the go.

Apple needs to be careful, though. If it makes too big a deal out of FM radio reception, it won't be long before Microsoft launches a series of "I'm an iPod/I'm a Zune HD" ads.  

Is the iPod vulnerable? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has an iPhone loaded with free apps, and maybe four or five that he has paid for. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned here. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (24) | Recommend This Article (12)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2009, at 3:41 PM, gettingit wrote:

    Rick, good article, do you think there is a possibility that Apple could buy SIRI?

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2009, at 3:50 PM, gettingit wrote:

    Rick, do you think Apple could purchase SIRI? Would it make sense?

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2009, at 4:39 PM, SIRIDoom wrote:

    Heheheh, what a joke. WHY would apple want to buy SIRI with over $11 billion of debt and a very saturated stock issue.

    If anything, you make a case for SIRI to do a full bore 50 for 1 rev-split. Apple would not touch SIRI for any value. But, it would be just like Mel KarmaCrook to crap on stock holders again and again and again.

    SIRI is a dead duck for the next 8 months. They are prepping for the rev-split. Just waiting to make it look good. Then they have more debt payments. Also, subscribers are dwindling in the economy.

    But, you get a little pump from this 3q report. Enjoy it. This will be the last "less negative" report for a long time.

    IMHO

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2009, at 4:58 PM, dedmunds wrote:

    Everybody must go to SatWaves.com and Seeking Alpha for true unbios information on SIRI. There the only websites that have true information on SIRI stock and you won't get crybabies that lost there ass on SIRI like SIRIDoom.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2009, at 5:25 PM, dedmunds wrote:

    Everybody read the Audiovox earnings call at Seeking Alpha in the headlines. They expect excellant earnings in the coming months with the SIRI SkyDock. There very happy with the product and forsee great earnings for SIRI and Audiovox in the coming months. Everthing is coming into place for SIRI positive earnins and growth!!! Must get in now or continue to buy while this stocks is extra cheep, it will go up from here!!!

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2009, at 5:31 PM, SIRIDoom wrote:

    SIRI News

    Consumer Affairs Web Site documents "Tons of billing errors".

    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/home_electronics/sirius.html

    This news was censored and reposted on the all bios propiganda web site Seeking Alpha....

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2009, at 5:35 PM, dedmunds wrote:

    SIRI NEWS !!!

    If your not sure about investing in SIRI read the Audiovox earnings report!!! SkyDock rocks!!! and will make both companys excell!!!

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2009, at 5:47 PM, SIRIDoom wrote:

    LOL SkyDuck - Add this one to the list of smokles ashtrays and egg slicers.

    Spend $124.00 to turn your cell phone into a $79.00 sat radio.

    and

    it only works on XM stations... Why?

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2009, at 5:48 PM, RAF22 wrote:

    SIRIDoom - The very name speaks for itself -

    This guy clearly has an agenda and continually misrepresents the facts.

    When he states above ..."SIRI with over $11 billion in debt" This is a total fabrication.

    Zacks Investment Research listed Sirius XM long term debt at $2,851,740 as of 12/31/08. The most recent quarterly figure for long term debt was $3,029,360 as of 9/30/09.

    These are manageable amounts, given the maturities and cash flow prospects for the company.

    SIRIDoom has clearly been run over by the recovery of SIRI and his resentments come through loud and clear in his postings.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2009, at 6:05 PM, SIRIDoom wrote:

    RAF22 is a employee paid SIRI advertiser and closly linked to Seeking Alpha. He has been missleading people to buy SIRI for over 2 years. He uses many loginIDs to fool people.

    If you stick around you will see RAF22's agenda is to sell SIRI stock and lie doing it.

    RAF22 spams here to sell SIRI and get people to read Seeking Alpha and Statwave pro SIRI propiganda. AVOID

    I do NOT own any SIRI at this time because I view the rev-split a very big devaluation risk. I have never shorted SIRI.

    I do NOT lie. I present the facts. I have years of experince with SIRI and know this is a very bad time to hold any SIRI stock...

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2009, at 6:16 PM, southernbeachguy wrote:

    Can't imagine why anyone would want an FM Radio in their IPhone! They come free in your car and can be purchased for the House or Office with better speakers for $5. Do you really want to listen to commercials over your IPhone?

    With the Sirus App at least you can listen to anything (Talk Radio, Jazz, Latin, 60s,ESPNChristian, Comedy, etc).

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2009, at 6:16 PM, SIRIDoom wrote:

    Direct attacks and spit matches are always started by the PAID Propaganda Bloggers. They are here to sell you SIRI and disrupt any negative opinions. Normal people make comments and respect the opinions of others, even without agreeing.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2009, at 6:39 PM, TheWongg wrote:

    While I don't agree with everything SIRIDoom says, he is dead right on many people here (including RAF22) about being biased propaganda spreaders on SIRI.

    If none of you people "care" about what MF says, why are you same 5 people on here day in and day out blasting MF? Could it be you are part of the propaganda? Hmmm. Seems so.

    Sites like Satwaves and Seeking Alpha are pro-SIRI propaganda sites, seeing SIRI do no wrong. Just Like Motley Fool can say very little good about SIRI.

    It would be nice if there was an actual intellectual site that steered in the middle of the SIRI debate.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2009, at 6:46 PM, ThongLover wrote:

    SiriDumb...you're pathetic...go away and play...

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2009, at 7:09 PM, BigVincent wrote:

    I care about the freedom of speech to allow Motley Fool to continue there blogging columns no matter how much of it is just true trash talk. I'm long siri but I can't hate no matter what the cause of the propaganda might be. Now if it does come down to defamation then I would like to see the motley fool gone, but to this day nothing has been determined as being defamation. Therefore stock holders or siri can't sue the Motley Fool.

    To Siri Doom: RAF22 was right about the debt owed which is roughly 3.8 billion which isn't due until 2015.

    So why knock on somebody for being accurate no matter how biased it maybe. Back in FEB, and MARCH both sirius and XM debt was owed which was an accumulative 9billion total. Since then half of that accumulative has been paid and refinanced. Sirius actually owes less debt than 10% of the companies on the NASDAQ today.

    To Rick Munarriz: You've been in a band, had your day in the music industry. It would be better if most of your articles were positive. You should be pro siri as it actually allows the music industry to thrive and live from the attacks of MP3 P2P down loaders and thieves. It stops the NAB from abusing its control of the music industry which has span for almost longer then a century. People have not come to realize that satellite radio allows the consumer, the music industry, and advertisers to all come together in an arrangement that everyone can agree on. satellite radio is the market place where everyone in america can at least agree on something. This is what makes satellite radio ultimately a superior product and catalyst to the consumer. Agreed satellite technology may seem a decade old, but music will never die. Sirius/xm's new stationary satellite that was just launched has the power to not only broadcast the bandwidth of satellite radio, it has enough to broadcast television and internet.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2009, at 7:32 PM, Melci wrote:

    Apple doesn't have anything to worry about adding FM radio - with the radio-implementation in the iPod Nano, Apple has already leap-frogged the radio feature in the Zune with the ability to pause and re-wind live radio, something the Zune cannot do.

    As usual, it may take a while for Apple to do something seemingly obvious, but they take their time to do it right in a way that is absolutely compelling.

    -Mart

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2009, at 9:33 PM, WoodyDog1400 wrote:

    SIRIDoom = SIRIKaboom!

    You might want to follow the stock before you fail to challenge it. How much is it up YTD vs Apple?

    That's what I thought.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2009, at 10:33 PM, SIRIDoom wrote:

    Scott you must be a Johnny come late. How much is SIRI down from the 6.00 pre merger sp?

    Can you say "Quick and Dirty financing"? SIRI management did that. Bet you don't even know what I am talking about.

    Glad you have some gains. Stick around and you will learn not to hold when the real world is betting against a stock...

  • Report this Comment On October 15, 2009, at 9:20 AM, RAF22 wrote:

    To all investors in SIRI: There is a very signficant article on Satwaves.com this morning: "Audiovox Bullish on Sirius XM Radio" This article cites the views of a major hardware supplier to Sirius XM with demand for the new SkyDock and other Sirius products, marketing plans, supply channel ramping up, and an emerging marketing partnership with Apple.

    This is must reading for all who are involved with Sirius XM.

  • Report this Comment On October 15, 2009, at 10:45 AM, JPS007 wrote:

    This is huge. Just picked this up from Satwaves:

    In an interview on Satwaves Radio last night, Joe Caltabiano, National Sales Manager of the Satellite Radio Division of Audiovox (VOXX) offered listeners EXCLUSIVE details into Sirius XM Radio (SIRI) and its new products and marketing plans. Mr. Caltabiano provided low end satellite radio hardware sales estimates of no less than than 300,000 plus units to be sold in the current quarter, suggesting that higher results were likely and refused to put a cap on the number of Satellite Radio units that may be sold.

    Mr. Caltabiano explained in detail the excitement being generated regarding the Sirius XM SkyDock, much as Audiovox CEO Patrick Lavelle explained during the Audiovox conference call yesterday (page 3). He went on to give new details of the newest Sirius XM marketing campaign called Rock ‘N’ Rewards in which new subscribers are being offered up to 100 dollars cash back in the form of a Visa gift card, depending on the level of service that can be used towards the subscription or any other purpose.

    A bombshell announcement was made when Mr Caltabiano announced that the SkyDock will be sold for the first time ever in Apple Stores across the country, as he verified an as yet unannounced new marketing partnership between Sirius XM Radio and Apple (AAPL). When questioned about Audiovox’s ability to keep up with the anticipated demand, Mr Caltabiano assured listeners that the company has never been in a better position to meet that demand, as the company has no concerns with product allocation and is confident that all distribution channels will be supplied without issue, and announced that tens of thousands of units are being received and shipped to retailers nationwide every day.

    The news did not stop there, as Mr. Caltabiano confirmed that the company was working on new accessories to compliment the Xm SkyDock that will be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, opening the possibilities of home docks and portable radio accessories to be introduced. Also announced was the expected release date of Sirius XM’s new TTR1 tabletop Internet Radio and SRH2000 home audio unit in November prior to Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the Holiday following Thanksgiving.

    To hear a replay of the show, visit blogtalkradio. The show is available for download on iTunes as well.

  • Report this Comment On October 15, 2009, at 12:14 PM, BigVincent wrote:

    TTR1 is already available at amazon for $200.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002Q0W82A

  • Report this Comment On October 15, 2009, at 1:57 PM, SIRIDoom wrote:

    Satwaves and Seeking Alpha are pro-SIRI propaganda sites

  • Report this Comment On October 15, 2009, at 2:12 PM, SIRIDoom wrote:

    Everyone should complain to MF about the spam advertising Seeking Alpha and Statwaves. These people are pro SIRI propiganda spreading and censoring Communist.

    Are we reading here for stock information or propiganda and spam?

  • Report this Comment On October 15, 2009, at 7:29 PM, macbjg1 wrote:

    The answer is reallly rather simple. Apple makes a lot of money selling music, not just the iPod. iTunes tagging enables a listner to hear a song on FM and then, much like any impulse purchase, buy it from iTunes on the fly. It's like giving out free salty snacks at a bar if only to hasten the customer's purchase of more beer!

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