RadioTime has announced another product that will integrate it’s software into devices – this time with BMW and MINI. The MINI Connected option features a web radio function based on the RadioTime directory that leverages the iPhone’s Internet connection to tune to thousands of AM/FM and Internet-only radio stations worldwide.
Drivers of MINIs will be able to plug their iPhones into a standard USB port and then use the car’s existing controls to select from Internet radio stations in the RadioTime directory.
RadioTime CEO Bill Moore says, “Accessing Internet radio used to require patching a smartphone into a car’s existing sound system, and fiddling with a smartphone’s controls. Now, instead of looking at your smartphone screen, you can use the dash display and MINI Joystick to tune to web radio. Radio has always been an integral part of our cars, and we’re opening up the world of music, news, talk, sports and entertainment that only web radio can offer.”
This could well be the year that listening in cars begins to contribute to overall audience growth for Internet radio. Earlier this year Pandora announced deals with Pioneer for a Pandora enabled navigation system that will detect iPhones and iTouches and put the user’s Pandora settings on the nav screen, and a deal with Ford for its Sync in-car communication system.
Ford’s been pretty excited about SYNC – it’s branded and unique in-car communications system that enables the driver to use voice commands with some of the car’s functions. Drivers have been able to access 911 as well as traffic, directions and information using a bluetooth device paired with a mobile phone.
Now, having watched the success of mobile apps and the iPhone, Ford has begun taking steps to integrate SYNC with that larger playground. Searching for ways to adapt Smartphone mobile apps for in-car use through voice control of the SYNC(®) communications system, the company first turned to the nearby University of Michigan-Dearborn campus to spur innovative ideas around “what’s next” for the connected car experience.
There, Ford enlisted the help of six computer science students, working with their professors to devise an extracurricular project that would net the young programmers invaluable real-world experience. Not surprisingly, after reviewing roughly 100,000 apps in the iPhone App store, the students pinpointed Internet radio as one of two areas most relevant to in-car use. The resulting app, called SYNCcast, lets users enjoy Internet radio while driving. It will launch in 2010.
Presumably, Pandora is part of that development project. Pandora’s CTO Tom Conrad recently spoke about Pandora’s in-car development plans, saying that Pandora is working with car makers, including an existing deal with Ford, to put Pandora contols in the dashboard.