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Apple and Google Want the Car Dashboard – Now


Dear Radio Listeners:

Apple and Google want you! Even (and perhaps especially) when you’re in your car.

Here’s a video showing some of the navigation functionality of the “coming soon” iOS upgrade:

But don’t imagine that the functions will be limited to maps and directions.

iOS in the Car is a feature that allows customers to attach an iOS device to a compatible car center console via either wireless protocols or over a USB cable. An iOS interface for managing Maps, Messages, and Music appears on the car’s display.
…the iOS in the Car feature supports multiple resolutions of external displays, touch input and hardware controls, and voice input. The move puts Apple in a head on battle with arch rival Google, which is developing a version of Android for the car, it announced earlier this year. Google has joined with handset makers for the project, which includes Google, GM, Honda, Audi, Hyundai, and chipmaker Nvidia, and will focus on bringing the successful mobile operating system to in-car entertainment systems ‘in a way that is purpose built for cars.’ The first cars with Android integration are planned for launch by the end of 2014.

So this may the breakout year for fluid integration between the systems in your pocket and those on your dashboard.

There can be no doubt that this is absolutely what users of these devices would desire. Plenty of evidence elsewhere indicates that consumers welcome seamless sharing of content and experiences across platforms.

It’s also clear that one of the key next steps for iTunes Radio will be “baking in” this feature to the dashboard via an iOS upgrade. This will, naturally, remove obstacles to trial and repeat use and expand the easy-to-use platform to a venue where audio entertainment and information gets a large fraction of its total use.

And the largest fraction of that large fraction belongs, of course, to radio.

See, I think broadcasters are asking themselves the wrong question.

Instead of asking “What’s the future of the auto dashboard and radio’s place on it?” broadcasters should be asking “What are the must-hear features of my brand that will command attention on a crowded dashboard?”

Not just “how am I different?” but “How am I meaningfully different?”

While Pandora and iTunes Radio and the rest may outpace radio in content that is stripped of clutter and personalizable, radio, it seems to me, is way ahead in the race for meaningfully different content – or at least it can be when at its best.

And the days to come will be cruel to any radio brand that is not at its best.

But remember, just because Pandora and iTunes Radio are all-music today doesn’t mean they always must be. With distribution and attention comes a business model that supports the kind of original content for which radio has historically been famous. And the case studies are as close as Netflix and Amazon and Hulu and their slates of original content. Or as close as the vertically integrated TV networks which have tentacles from content creation to distribution.

Think big, radio. Now is the time when attention must be earned.

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