02/25

What 4G LTE Internet Access in your Car means for Radio

In the race to exploit new digital opportunities, Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker describes three “consumer Internet ‘white spaces’ yet to be re-imagined.”

Two of them are the “ear” and the car. And she describes the latter as “largely untapped.”

“Untapped” no more.

Consider today’s automotive news headlines:

General Motors Co. is expected to announce today a partnership with AT&T that will bring embedded 4G LTE mobile Internet access into most 2015 GM vehicles sold in the U.S. and Canada. The Detroit automaker said the rollout, which first will be available to consumers in mid-2014 as they buy 2015 Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC vehicles, signifies the largest implementation of 4G LTE in vehicles to date.

BMW and Audi AG also have announced 4G capability in vehicles.

In August, Chrysler Group LLC announced it had teamed up with Sprint to offer embedded wireless services for Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system, available in 2013 Ram 1500 pickups and SRT Viper models. Features include the ability for voice-text messaging and vehicle Wi-Fi.

So, as I and others have long argued, the radio competitor/alternative in your pocket will now be joined by a radio competitor/alternative in your driveway that need not necessarily be connected to the one in your pocket in order to substitute for the radio stations consumers listen to today.

While it may seem like a small step, any obstacle to getting the content you want – even when that obstacle is only cabling up your iPhone or messing with some buttons – is an obstacle nonetheless.  Removing that obstacle makes the entertainment experience ever more easy – much like radio, itself.

The answer for broadcasters is simple:

  1. Provide more value to consumers in more ways and across more platforms by leveraging the huge number and depth of relationships we enjoy today in part through the power of technology. Be more relevant by being more relevant.
  2. Provide exclusive “must hear” content that can’t be easily or cheaply substituted by alternatives. If Ford can program a better radio platform than you can, you deserve to lose.

Any broadcaster who is not building for a future that acknowledges the essential truth of these two paths is blind to that future.

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