Recently, I discovered Internet radio streaming on my mobile. There aren't many options but it's easy to use and after one has spent some time to find the radio stations that provide good content audio quality and save them as favorites it's "click & go" fun. Using it in a stationary way works well, but how about streaming while sitting in the tram or moving through the city? Will the program have enough data buffered for short outages?
So I tested it on a route from which I know that there is continuous and good 3G coverage (no use trying it on the train I take almost daily where I know 3G coverage is patchy at times). And yes, in areas with good 3G coverage, streaming worked well and during the 20 minutes I tried I encountered no major glitches. The only downside is that the mobile gets a bit warm over time and it takes a heavy tool on the battery. So in other words, continuous radio streaming requires two things:
- A good 3G network on the route
- A charger at the destination.
The issue of high power consumption is unlikely to be fixed anytime soon as 3G chips tend to get faster but not significantly more power efficient. Therefore I don't think we will see hordes of people running around streaming their favorite music instead of listening to "bottled" music anytime soon. Also, the network coverage I used for the test was exceptional. In most moving use cases, you end up sooner or later in places where no 3G network is available and your audio stream comes to a sudden halt. That completely kills the experience.
Don't get me wrong, I love Internet radio and often have a stream running on my PC while at home. But in a fully mobile environment I am a bit skeptical that there will be a take-up beyond occasional listening.