I'm fascinated by the ongoing developments with car infotainment systems for two reasons. First, I love cars. Second, I love radio and I hope the traditional broadcast industry can adapt to being marginalized when it comes to in-car listening.
Here's another story that should have radio executives paying attention to what's going on in the dashboard.
STMicroelectronics is a supplier of infotainment products to automobile manufacturers. They're urging customers and non-customers alike to adopt a language standard called VNC. Basically, this system allows any smartphone to easily use the large dashboard display for its apps.
Smartphone-centric in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems are the next step in mobile convenience; they allow the car to access the contents of the portable device and display the data and apps on the in-dash head unit. For example, drivers can pipe Google Maps or smartphone navigation apps onto the car’s display screen and control the applications from there.
Similarly, they can use the larger display to manage what they are listening to without fumbling with their mobile device while driving. Using industry-standard interface technologies like VNC ensures that any phone or other hardware will work with any vehicle and drivers stay more focused on the road.
Here's why radio people need to pay attention:
1. Smartphone penetration amongst the general public has surpassed 50%. Market share is only going to grow as more people move away from so-called dumb "feature phones."
2. A substantial number of people (>25% of smartphone users) already use their devices in the car. The cabling/connectivity may be a little confusing, kludgy and annoying, but they've overcome that in order to enjoy a more personalized entertainment experience while driving.
3. The average automobile on the road in the US is ten years old. Eventually, the economy will improve and there will be a stampede towards new car showrooms. Many new models already have sophisticated infotainment systems because manufacturers know that this gadgetry hels sell cars.
4. As the number choices for in-car entertainment increases, AM and FM radio will be pushed further into the margins, especially among younger more tech-savvy drivers.
Can radio face this technological challenge? I hope so.
How? I have plenty of ideas. Let's see if anyone in the industry wants to hear them. Email me.
Meanwhile, read more about VNC technology here.