From the pages of Appliance Retailer…

25 February 2008

It seems like an age ago that retailers and suppliers were feverishly excited about the launch of DAB+ digital radio. The digital TV wave was cresting and price erosion was becoming endemic in consumer electronics categories, meaning both sides of the industry were looking to find a new profit life raft.

‘We’re working quite heavily with Harvey Norman to ensure that we have product before Christmas, so people are ready for that launch in January,” said then Bush Australia managing director Daniel Todd.

“I was instrumental in the roll out of DAB in the UK, so I’ve experienced what digital radio can do for the radio industry; so we’re 100 per cent behind it and we’re really looking forward to the lunch.

“We already have a very large arsenal of DAB products which we sell in the UK and other countries in Europe, and most of those are upgradeable to DAB+. So we already have a products from kitchen radios, to clock radios to in-car, to iPod accessories, which we’ll be able to launch.”

Todd was understandably bullish about the rollout, which was still 10 months away at the time of this story. “It reinvigorated the audio market which can tend to be a bit stagnant when nothing new comes out,” he said.

Unfortunately, however, while DAB+ digital radio sounds amazing — all the propaganda about improved sound quality was spot on — there have been myriad challenges to uptake. The lack of any switch-off calendar means consumers are not motivated in the same way the TV switchover forced them to act, many subterranean and in-mall retailers have struggled to sell the audio benefits of the technology, you can’t use it listen to live sport and, because different countries use different systems, you can’t pack your DAB+ receiver in your bag when travelling.

But the biggest obstacle of all has been the rollout: digital radio is still only available in the mainland state capitals — poor old Hobart is always being ignored — and even the service in Darwin and our nation’s capital, Canberra, are still officially in trial stages.

That is absolutely embarrassing considering our exploration into the ARchives takes us back to 6 years ago today.

The UK #1 single that day was Mercy by Duffy.