Are Ford and HD Radio in Sync?

You know it’s NAB Radio Show time when the news releases about HD radio start.

Today we hear that Ford will make HD radio a dealer-installed option across its product line. This follows on the heels of BMW doing the same thing in 2006.

To date, it has never been reported how many BMW buyers have taken the HD radio option. No news, of course, is rarely good news.

Obviously, it’s better to offer HD radio as an option than not at all. But the key issue, as I have long said, is not to feature it as an “option” but as “standard” equipment. If you have to trade off an HD radio vs. a sunroof, then most folks will choose the sunroof. But if the HD radio is as standard as the steering wheel, it will be in every car that comes off the line and in every Ford-enabled driveway.

(And by the way, this is every bit as true for satellite radio as it is for HD).

According to the Ford press release, “price points will vary by dealership.” But anyone who has done anything at a dealer knows it can’t be cheap.

And there’s another factor mixed in here, too. Ford is also the company evangelizing Microsoft’s “Sync”, its a fully integrated, digital, voice and Bluetooth-enabled audio system that, among other things, allows you to play songs from a connected media player via voice command. Sync is priced at $349 (about the same as the cost of a high end iPod) on models where it is optional. But it is standard equipment on higher end models – and these, of course, are exactly the models targeting consumers who are more apt to spend extra on a radio.

The radio industry will, of course, promote Ford for free in exchange for this development as part of the presumably soon-to-expire pledge of airtime to the HD radio effort.

Will we sell more Syncs than HD’s?

Let’s hope that new car buyers don’t know how to pronounce “sync.”

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