This blog usually covers legal and policy issues, not product reviews. And this article will at least try to relate policy decisions to a product review, but mostly it’s to share a cool new feature on my phone. To explain, I am one of those holdouts still using a Blackberry. In dealing with new media clients, I almost feel like I have to make excuses for still using a Blackberry, but as an attorney who travels frequently and writes many emails from the road, the physical keyboard really makes a difference – at least to me. I can at least say that I did upgrade to the Q10 last year – the Blackberry that has the physical keyboard, but also has a new faster operating system that relies much more on touch commands for everything but the actual typing. This week, I received what I consider a gift from Blackberry, as I’m also a big radio fan. While I listen to Internet radio and use digital music services, I also still really enjoy listening to over-the-air radio. This week, my Blackberry Q10 received an upgrade to its operating system and, with that upgrade, the phone’s FM chip was activated. Now, my ATT phone gets over-the-air radio – becoming the modern equivalent to the transistor radio – a radio in my pocket at all times. Of course, being a lawyer, the whole question of activating FM chips in mobile phones brings up policy issues, as it has been in and out of many policy arguments over the last few years.
First, a qualification must be made for international readers of this blog. The question of an active FM chip in a mobile phone is an issue in the US, but not in many other countries of the world, where FM reception on mobile phones has been standard for many years. In the US, that has not been the case. While the chips are built into most phones, they are not activated. Some suggest that the chips are not activated because the carriers want to encourage data usage through the use of online audio, but the carriers simply say that there is no consumer demand for the activation of the feature. No matter what the reason, the chip has not been activated in most US phones, and thus policy issues from time to time arise as to whether it’s activation should be mandated or encouraged by government action. Continue Reading