Six percent of automotive aftermarket car radios sold this year will be Internet radio capable, according to the Consumer Electronic Association. That number will increase to 14% by 2015 based on projections from the CEA.
In sync with that trend, Ford will no longer put cd players in the dash of their cars, opting instead for their connected dash approach, according to Digital Music News. “In-car entertainment technology is moving digital more rapidly than almost any other element of the vehicle experience,” said Sheryl Connelly, global trends and futuring manager at Ford Motor Company. “The in-car CD player – much like pay telephones – is destined to fade away in the face of exciting new technology.”
The automotive aftermarket is hot for Internet radio, and most notably, Pandora enabled devices. Seattle-based Car Toys’ Jim Warren said, “Pandora products are selling through quite well. Typically, the Pandora feature is packaged in with other step up features so it is difficult to isolate the impact of the feature by itself. Regardless, we love seeing our suppliers adding step up features that connect the smartphone to aftermarket car audio.”
This year has seen a lot of interest by automotive aftermarket companies in introducing Internet radios. Alpine says that 60% of their 2011 radios have Internet radio features. Pioneer, Kenwood, Livio Radio and other manufacturers have introduced devices as well. “When we first started selling Internet radio products in 2008, we were cold calling customers and the main question we had to answer was “What’s Internet Radio?” Now customers are calling our office and asking us what products we have that can add Internet Radio to their cars.” says Jake Sigal, Founder of Livio Radio.
No doubt Pandora’s big brand helps to create the kind of buzz that sells these radios. Functionality that leaves the listening choices to the listener will be important to the industry as a whole. I look at the way that Sirius and XM drove the success of satellite radio’s expansion into cars and wonder who – other than Pandora and to some degree Clear Channel – is driving online radio’s automotive future?
Joining the list of manufacturers moving into mobile streaming, Harman International purchased Aha Mobile. Aha Mobile is a technology platform that provides on-demand, interactive, personalized radio to mobile users. It uses location based and text to speech features to personalize and stream audio content. It enables a user to update or listen to a facebook or Twitter feed, receive or share traffic reports, find out what’s nearby for lunch, and listen to podcasts.
“Streaming, on-demand Web content technology is a natural complement to HARMAN’s premium infotainment systems, and we look forward to expanding the reach of this innovative platform,” said Dinesh C. Paliwal, HARMAN Chairman, President and CEO. “We will deploy this new technology to strengthen our global leadership as the provider of choice for rich, interactive infotainment on the road, around the home, or on the go.”
Mobile connectivity has become a key feature for auto industry leaders Ford with Sync, and GM with OnStar. GM just announced a new extension of its OnStar connected platform called MyLink which will feature wifi connectivity, streaming audio featuring Pandora, and other voice activated online options.
Aha Mobile had recently signed a deal with Internet radio Ad Network TargetSpot to sell location based audio ads on their mobile streams.