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Radio on the connected car dashboard - more open and more about radio

At least in Ford cars, internet radio takes a leap forward

One of the most interesting sessions, for me, at RadioDays Europe last year was one on radio's place in the car dashboard.

The car is somewhere where radio has historically always been strong. Over 20% of all radio listening in the UK is done in a car, and it's one place where the internet has yet to make any serious difference to listening. For most of us, plugging in our mobile phones and controlling them safely is nigh-on impossible.

The US, for once, is ahead of us. Radio and cars are natural bedfellows there; indeed, unlike here, it's the most popular place anyone listens to the radio - over 50% of all radio listened-to happens in-car. And now, the internet is coming.

Ford have been one of the companies changing this space in the US, and at the CES yesterday, Ford announced two important pieces of news. They have a technology called SYNC AppLink, which allows you to control apps from the car steering wheel. For a while, the only apps that you could control were the big ones - presumably iHeart Radio, Pandora, TuneIn, those types of things. Now, though, they're opening this up to any individually-branded app. So, if you've your own app, your station, too, can be in the "home screen" of the car dashboard - and control your app through voice commands and the buttons on the steering-wheel.

That's massive: since it opens up the car dashboard to anyone who wants to be there. Including your station.

But, just as massive for radio, is the development partner that Ford have selected: a company called jacAPPS. This company will be providing the code and the necessary testing for the SYNC AppLink product. What's great about this news is that jacAPPS is one of the largest radio app specialists in the US - they're people who understand radio, working on radio's in-car future. That's a massive win for the industry.

The Inquirer reports that SYNC Applink is coming to Europe later this year. So perhaps the US won't stay ahead for long; although Pandora's recently-announced 7% share of all radio listening is, probably, not the kind of advance that the UK radio industry might be keen on.

As a conference speaker, I am currently doing a major research piece about smartphone listening: and will share some of this at RadioDays Europe in Berlin.

James Cridland is the Managing Director of Media UK, and a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business.
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3 comments

Recommendations: 0
Peter Symonds
posted

I think Parrot Asteroid radios maybe doing the same thing. They claim to have TuneIn radio on their after market receivers.

Recommendations: 0
Ash Elford
posted

What Peter says. The Parrot Asteroid is an internet in-car radio that has been on-sale in the UK for around 18 months, it connects to the web via a 3G dongle or Bluetooth to a 3G phone. The Asteroid is based on Google’s Android platform too.

Recommendations: 0
Peter Symonds
posted

Saying that I’ve got a feeling that TuneIn asteriod “app” is only available if you are in the US at the moment. But it probably wont be that long before they have it on them over here.

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