Category Archives: In-Car

Ford Puts Focus On Voice Activated Apps and Names JacAPPs as its Partner

It’s CES week, something that you probably aren’t aware of only if you live in a cave, because digital and devices news coming out of Vegas is fast and furious. There are always interesting announcements about the streaming audio space from CES. The first one to grab my attention came from a press release from JacAPPS, a radio focused app builder that will be the recommended mobile app development house for their new Ford Developer Program.


Consumer Electronics Show


This is a big deal. Ford announced yesterday that they will “launch an open developer program that enables software developers to directly interface with the vehicle and create apps that will enhance the driving experience.” They become the first car manufacturer to offer an open api platform and invite anyone to create apps for it.


In particular, Ford is putting the focus on voice activated apps. “Offering voice control so drivers can keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road has proven to be popular with our customers. Now, with an even faster adoption rate of smartphones, there is a need for a renewed focus on voice control for the unique capabilities of these devices, especially for the use of apps.” said Hau Thai-Tang, vice president of Engineering, Ford Global Product Development.


Developers who have a great idea for an app but need some help building it can turn to jacAPPS who will be the recommended mobile app development house for the Ford Developer Program. The company has been chosen to provide development and technical support to third-party developers wanting to create voice-activated smartphone apps for Ford SYNC AppLink.


jacAPPS will provide support for all developers interested in integrating their apps with the SYNC© AppLink™ system for voice commands and other functionality. “We have been training and testing apps on the system for several months and we’re available to help the radio industry and all mobile app developers become major players on the connected car dashboard,” says president Fred Jacobs, while at the same time announcing that Greater Media stations will be the first fully integrated in the new platform.




Study: More Than One in Five Listen To Streams Daily


Triton Digital and Alan Burns and Associates recently released a new study Radio Tomorrow which focuses on listener attitudes and behavior with a focus on future prospects for the medium. It’s a dense study with a lot of interesting questions in it. For example,

25% of those asked stream music on a smartphone daily from AM/FM, Pandora and other sources, and the number climbs to almost 40% weekly. Pandora alone claims 11% daily and 15% weekly in terms of people using it, per the study.

Some of the news in the study is predictable: young people listen to radio less, want more control of their stations.

Some of it is less so – for example, the study found that 44% of listeners would be more likely to buy a phone if it had an FM chip in it. And of the nearly 20% who have internet access in their cars, many still listen to AM/FM (70%).

When asked if there is a medium that feels like a friend, 50% named RADIO. And they find radio ads more trustworthy and less annoying.

If you haven’t taken a look at this study you should. There’s meaningful takeaways for anyone programming a station, online or not…

Alan Burns and Associates Radio Tomorrow Study


TuneIn, Livio Score With Chevy

Chevy Spark - CIAS 2012

One of the best universal portals to Internet radio on the planet is TuneIn. Formerly called RadioTime, TuneIn has been in the business of enabling listeners to search, find and listen to Internet radio for a long time. They’ve been through several rounds of funding and a management shift, not to mention some serious competition, and they’re still holding their own.

One of the things that TuneIn has done well is create partnerships with the auto industry to bring their technology into cars. This week, General Motors announced it will use Livio Connect technology to integrate the popular TuneIn music smartphone app with the Chevrolet Spark’s MyLink Radio dashboards manufactured globally.

This is good news for TuneIn and Livio, as well as all of Internet radio. TuneIn is the most sophisticated universal platform for online radio that is independent. They will play with everyone, regardless of the size of your station. No exclusive contracts necessary. Their success in creating relationships with car companies means that listeners will have more choices and stations will have more options. When Pandora and iHeartRadio announce integration with car companies, that’s good for them. When TuneIn announces the same, that’s good for the industry…

More Portals, More Listening, Right?

A NY Times article yesterday provides a nice summary of the ongoing attempt of iHeartRadio to grow its reputation as an Internet radio portal and compete with TuneIn, an independant company that has been in the business of offering a universal directory with links to Internet radio streams, and making it easier to listen to Internet radio with apps and software directories for device and car manufacturers.

While iHeartRadio has 12 million registered users (that would be those who have ever registered to use the service once), TuneIn has 40 million monthly users. As a frame of reference, Pandora recently said they have 150 million registered users and 49 million used the service in the last 30 days – so roughly one-third of their registered user base are monthly listeners. That would put iHeartRadio’s monthly users at around 4 million.

The NY Times article provides a good, if oversimplified, summary of the two services, depicting them as similar in offerings and battling it out to be THE Internet radio aggregator. In fact, it would be better for services and listeners, if there were more than two aggregators offering access to every service out there, making it as easy as possible to listen. And stations, broadcasters and pureplays, should work with all of them. After all, easy access is supposed to be what the Internet is all about, isn’t it?

Public Radio Listeners Are Shifting Gears

In their newly updated survey of public radio listeners, Jacobs Media reports that listening to radio is growing, but listening to broadcast radio is declining. While public radio listeners who spent an hour or more a day listening to AM/FM declined 2%, those who listened weekly or more to Internet radio increased 16%. Now 87% of public radio listeners listen daily to AM/FM and 46% listen weekly online. 6% listen to HD Radio, a number that fell 3% in the past year.

Half of public radio listeners connect a smartphone or mp3 device in their cars to listen and nearly 10% of public radio listeners own cars with connected dashboards. 41% of public radio listeners say they do most of their listening to AM/FM in their cars.

As I was reading this study I was thinking about all the growth in listening that is going on these days. There are so many ways to get great audio content, and so many ways to listen. In a way it seems odd to keep focusing on WHICH technology listeners are using to access the content. It’s necessary and interesting of course, mainly because we are witnessing a major shift – away from listening via AM/FM exclusively. Many broadcasters are still trying to come to grips with that shift, and studies like this are helping them understand. It’s not HOW they listen that matters…

Dashboard Developments For Streaming Innovators

Both Livio and TuneIn are announcing deals related to connected dashboards this week. For the first time, TuneIn announces a dashboard deal thatEnglish: The Tesla Model S is an all-electric ... makes the service available without using a smartphone to connect. TuneIn is providing more than 70,000 stations from the popular service directly to Tesla Model S, the world’s first premium electric sedan.

Livio meanwhile sent over an interesting notice that they are working with a group called Genivi, a non-profit industry alliance committed to driving the broad adoption of an In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) open-source development platform. Automobile manufacturers and their suppliers are beginning to use the GENIVI platform as a common framework for their products and services. Their aim, they say, is to accelerate in-dash innovation by creating standards that everyone can conform to.

“Joining GENIVI was an easy decision.  GENIVI’s goals are complementary to our current strategy for connecting apps to cars and what we believe is the right way for the industry to move forward,” said Livio founder and CEO Jake Sigal.

CBS RADIO Signs Up With Tunein

CBS RADIO has signed a non-exclusive deal with tunein, giving tunein listeners access to news, sports and talk content on more than 40 CBS RADIO stations. This news flies in the face of several exclusive deals recently leveraged by Clear Channel on its iHeartRadio platform, where some major broadcasters were signing away their rights to work with multiple online portals to engage listeners, and instead agreeing that the online online portal they would work with would be iHeartRadio.

“We have always believed in the value of great local content, and this agreement validates the demand we know exists for our original programming while at the same time creates a new revenue source for the company,” said Ezra Kucharz, President, CBS Local Digital Media. “By forging relationships with premiere distribution services such as tunein, CBS RADIO will significantly grow its audiences by exposing our content to new listeners.”

The CBS RADIO deal make a lot of sense, although it’s disappointing that only talk radio content is included. This may be due to tunein’s global appeal – CBS Radio restricts streaming of its music stations to the US. tunein has a suite of very popular mobile apps as well as deals with many devices and automakers, high rankings on iTunes for its popular app. According to Alexa, it’s one of the most popular websites in the US and world, ranking just above the top 1000. That’s a lot of potential listeners…

Consumers That Stream Also Listen To FM In Cars

Nearly 40% of smartphone owners have used their device to listen to a streaming music service while in their car, according to new research by NPD Group on automotive connectivity. Devices and ways to connect them have become a serious focus for the auto industry. 79% of car owners are using a digital device in their cars.

It appears at this point that streaming in the car is used to supplement listening to traditional radio – according to NPD’s Ben Arnold, seventy three percent of drivers report still using their FM radio “always” or “most of the time” during car trips while more than half (57 percent) of vehicle owners say a CD player is vital in their decision to buy a car stereo or entertainment system.

The desire to consume connected content is a challenge for the auto industry as well – as they focus on best ways to integrate mobile connectivity into the car with minimal driver distraction. Apple’s voice controlled Siri  and Microsoft’s motion controlled product found in Kinect are technologies that automakers are looking to integrate into the equation.

Meanwhile, in place of smooth integration, consumers are finding ways to connect their mobile devices using auxillary inputs (18%), USB ports (11%), and Bluetooth technology (56%). This fact – that consumers are so interested in developing workaround ways to use their connected devices in their cars, is a huge indicator of the desirability for a more connected dashboard.

“The key is for auto makers and traditional audio manufacturers to facilitate consumer use of connected devices in the vehicle, allowing content from the smartphone, tablet, or digital media player to easily stream or be controlled through the deck mounted in the dashboard,” Arnold said.  “We’re only going to see greater consumer attachment to social media, streaming audio and video, and other services as content options grow.”

What’s Driving Internet Radio

1963 Chrysler Turbine in Hershey PA.

“In the not-too-distant future, a car with a radio that receives only AM or FM will qualify as an antique.” So says a WSJ article covering a new study released by Deloitte on Generation Y’s automotive buying power and preferences.

The study finds that 59% of 19 to 31 year olds place in-car connectivity as the top interior feature when shopping for a new car. This year one out of every four persons in that age group will buy a new car, almost half of them will purchase new or used in the next two years.

That’s driving heavy interest in tuners and platforms that are app ready and adaptable to safe car use. Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, NPR and others are working with auto manufacturers to place their apps in the cars, as is SiriusXM. Leading the way, Pandora has deals in place with almost 2 dozen auto manufacturers already.

I think there’s a short term and long term view to all of this and long term my money is on all-in aggregators like TuneIn who provide access to anyone who wants to be listed in their directory. If you are a car manufacturer, isn’t that what you would want to offer? I’m thinking that’s what buyers will want to buy.



Slacker Adds Live Sports, Customizable Weather

English: Exterior CES sign outside the LVCC du...

It’s CES week in Vegas, and that means lots of Internet radio companies are announcing new deals and developments.

Slacker will now offer live streaming of major professional and collegiate sports events from ESPN. The new feature began last night with the live broadcast of the BCS Championship game — No. 1 LSU versus No. 2 Alabama — which was available to all Slacker listeners. Slacker also announced a partnership with The Weather Channel to offer customizable forecasts and updates to Slacker listeners.

Adding real-time updates from The Weather Channel to Slacker’s millions of songs and non-music content further highlights Slacker’s commitment to creating the best Personal Radio experience. “Every person is affected by weather; it’s an important part of our lives,” said Jonathan Sasse, senior vice president of marketing at Slacker. “Including weather on our stations is one more way that Slacker is offering the most relevant content to listeners, providing the best possible personal radio experience.”

Meanwhile, Targetspot and Livio Radio have announced that TargetSpot will be the exclusive third-party advertising provider for Livio Connect, which allows consumers to access digital radio content while in their vehicles. Through this partnership, TargetSpot’s advertisers will be able to reach an audience of listeners comprised of 65 percent of the automotive Bluetooth market as well as drivers of major auto brands.

“Digital radio in-car is a game changer: until now, morning drive time has been served by over- the-air radio, but as digital access becomes more readily available in auto, this will change,” said Eyal Goldwerger, CEO of TargetSpot. “We are thrilled to offer our advertisers the ability to reach digital audio consumers in their cars. With TargetSpot’s widening network of distribution partners, advertisers can reach their desired target audiences wherever they are listening and whatever their listening preferences may be.”


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