Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Fight For The Dashboard

The first in-car radio was in a 1936 Buick; ever since then the radio has held a prominent spot in dashboards. Later came the addition of 8 tracks, cassettes, CD's, cell phones, XM and Sirius, and rear seat video systems. Just a few short years ago, an input jack was added to many car models so the consumer could plug in their iPod or other mp3 player.

What does the future hold for dashboard entertainment? For terrestrial radio this is the billion dollar question given the huge percentage of radio listening that takes place in the car. Reuters has a story that suggests the dashboard of the future will be less about built-ins and more about plug-ins.

"The car of the future will have the necessary chargers, iPod mounts, and ports for navigation and even the Internet, rather than a factory-installed all-in-one system".
Does that mean that radio will still have a prominent place right there in the middle of the dash or will the car of the future simply feature ports, an amp, a flat screen and speakers spread through the car? The long-term answer to that question is unclear. I would guess the standard radio featuring AM, FM, and more and more, Satellite Radio will be included in the dash for quite some time to come.

"...the car industry can no longer hope to compete with consumer electronics' aggressive product cycles".

"Their best chance is to offer connectivity for the many gadgets on the market, pleasing customers who expect to be able to use the same devices they use at home and on the street".

Let's assume that things go along this path and instead of hard wiring new technologies into cars the automakers instead offer consumers the chance to plug in practically any device they choose; how long before Apple, Blackberry, and Nokia become the auto entertainment standard?

Ultimately, this will expedite how fast new technology goes from home and handheld right into the car. So, if you can do it on your handheld, you will be able to do it while you commute to and from work in your car. As long as it's convenient and easy broad consumer acceptance will come.

So while it makes sense to think the standard radio will be in the dashboard for a long time to come, the questions we all need to be asking are: will anybody want to turn it on and will radio's content be available on that device that will be attached to the dash?

Read the entire story here.

1 comment:

Phil said...

You're on it Harve. In the online world this is also what "open source" and "Web 2.0" is all about. What is available to "mash up" with what I already have? From widgets on Facebook to scripts that execute tasks automatically in applications, it's not here's what I have to offer, it's here's what you can add to what I have to offer.

Also, I would say the radio is already, as they say in the newspaper biz, appearing below the fold. The video screen is now the focal point of the dashboard. Control GPS, heating and ventilation, travel times, gas mileage, maintenance, mp3 playback, Bluetooth...oh...and the radio.