Apple’s introduction of a sophisticated FM radio tuner within the iPod nano is being hailed by the radio industry as potentially re-igniting interest in the format among younger ears – and is being welcomed by consumers as one of the most attractive features of the latest version of the world’s biggest-selling player.

The iPod nano also offers a video camera and more, but the FM radio is definitely a leading feature for new music-hungry consumers, according to a US/UK survey from the Radio Research division of Vision Critical.

Researchers spoke with 3,000 consumers in the US, Canada and the UK this month, paying particular attention to the impact on 18-34-year olds in contrast to the general population.

According to the survey, the new interactive features of the FM tuner show potential to energize interest in radio among younger consumers – the demographic known to be the prime users of MP3 players.

Apple’s implementation of radio on the iPod nano is attractive. You can roll shows back up to 15-minutes to listen to bits you’ve missed. The research reveals consumers are “very interested” in the ability to pause and rewind songs they hear on the radio – particularly those between the ages of 18 and 34.

In the US, 47 per cent of those aged 18 and older say they are "very interested" in the ability to pause and rewind songs they hear on the radio. This rises to 66 per cent among 18 to 34-year-olds.

The opportunity to see the name of the song using the nano’s RDS display also has strong appeal. In all, 41 perc ent of Americans and 55 per cent of 18-34-year-olds expressed an interest in this feature.

Consumers where a little less interested in the ability to “tag” songs for future purchase, with 28 per cent of those aged 18 and older "very interested" in this feature, although this increases to 45 percent amongst 18-34-year-olds.

Over half (53 per cent) of UK residents aged 18-34 are activeluy interested in this rewind feature.

Thirty-five percent (35%) of UK residents aged 18 and older say they are “very interested” in the ability to pause and rewind songs they hear on the radio. This rises to 53% among 18-34 year-olds.

The opportunity to see the name of the song through the Nano’s RDS display also has clear appeal. In all, 27% of 18 and adults in general and 45% of 18-34 year-olds express an active interest in this feature.

The ability to “tag” songs for future purchase is not currently offered by British broadcasters, but this interest in this feature also shows potential, especially among younger listeners. Twenty-three percent (23%) of UK residents aged 18 and older are “very interested” in tagging songs for purchase. This increases to 40% of 18-34 year olds.

Thirty (30%) of 18-34 year-olds report listening “daily” to mp3s. This compares to only 16% of UK residents aged 18 and older.

“The new iPod nano will put FM radio into the hands of more people in more places. Most important, it puts more FM radios into the hands of younger demographics who represent the future of the medium,” the researchers claimed.

Jeff Smulyan, chairman-CEO of Emmis Communications, recently said the move will help make radio ubiquitous, pointing to the radio industry’s determined effort to ensure FM tuners are installed on all portable devices by 2013. The industry argues that making such a move would deliver a relevant emergency broadcast system, among other reasons.

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