FM Radio – India’s Spotify for music streaming

I was surprised by the news that Samsung Galaxy S4 does not have a FM radio. And it’s interesting to read the reason provided

Our studies show a trend shift of interest to digital broadcasting, specifically – focus on listening to music content in social networks or on the channel YouTube. The flagship model of our products are focused on customers who use digital content, which use modern formats and channels of information consumption

Galaxy S4

Source:AppleInsider

While i felt it is an important omission as FM radio is a standard feature in almost every device now , my friend replied that when some body buys a phone for Rs.45000 , wont they buy digital music? FM radio’s are so old he added . Spotify is the new in thing that lets you stream music and that it will come to India shortly.People who buy high-end smart phone will be willing to pay for such services was the focal point of discussion.

But i think other way around . Buying a smart phone in India is different from that of US or UK . There are no contract options to buy devices at subsidized cost. For average Indian out there , it is a big upfront cost to buy latest model of smart phone. Though many digital music services are out there in India to buy music at decent price, in the scheme of things for a consumer , paying for digital music does not make sense .

It’s interesting to note that people are ok for high initial investment but not ok for paying little sum of money every month.Take for instance, People buy BMW’s and other premium car by paying a fortune but most of them always buy Diesel version which costs more than Petrol. Reason being diesel cost is less compared to  that Petrol and hence every time when you go the gas station , you need not worry about filling up petrol that costs higher than diesel.Another interesting fact is the claims that diesel gives better mileage than petrol.That is the mindset that prevails with a lot of people here.

Some of reason why I feel  digital music will not be popular in India

1.Cost is of-course the primary reason. Though it costs as little as 10 Rs to buy a new song , it is difficult to buy half a dozen new album  every month. It costs a lot .FM radio provides a lot of variety and acts as a one stop shop for listening to all trending music for free.

2.Increase in number of houses that has broadband connection.Gone are the days when people illegally download music. Now every music album is available in youtube and the music label itself uploads music. So it makes little sense to spend lot of money to buy digital music to listen  just when you are outside and on the move.

3.There is no streaming services currently in India. Even if there is one , i think there will be very few people opting for them. For one reason , 3G is still in nascent stage and adoption is not widespread. Also 3G network is inconsistent and not reliable to stream music continuously. On top of that , there are no unlimited 3G plans in India and it’s costly as well. All 3G unlimited plans are throttled and hence reduces its speed beyond that which means streaming is not viable. Added to all these is the fact that streaming music can drain your battery quite quickly. Given that a lot of Indians use public transport unlike western countries where in people use the car for commuting and there by has an option to keep the mobile plugged in to charge, that option is not available to lot of users in India.

4.Space is again a constraint – need to buy a higher capacity will again increase the cost of smartphone especially in those phones which does not have external memory card.

Where  FM Radio beats Digital Music ?

FM Radio stations India

Source:Sasidhar

Considering  these limitations, FM radio is a very good option whether you have a basic phone or top of end smart phone.FM stations are in plenty and though the advertisement on them can be overwhelming , one can always rotate the channels and go with the flow.Also FM radio do not drain battery like that of streaming music service is an added plus.Personally i don’t like listening to music from my digital library for the discovery and surprise that FM radio brings out  is solely missed out which  is also one reason why streaming services are getting popular.

In a way , FM radio is India’s Spotify or iTunes  for now and it will be India’s most preferred option to listen to music for years to come unless the network infrastructure improves and costs comes down dead cheap so that people can buy or stream music.

Yes of-course a lot of people will load their smart phone with pirated music anyways and hence it may not be a big deal. But for others , who do not go this route, there is little option left for listening to music  if they are planning to buy Galaxy S4 in India.

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