In a preview of CES, The Hollywood Reporter cuts to the chase – the most fundamental reason why the technology of the car dashboard is bound to change no matter what the power players of the radio industry desire:
Car buyers—particularly millennials—are no longer as susceptible to the [auto] industry’s traditional marketing tropes of styling, horsepower and handling. Instead, they see the car as an extension of their digital lives, and increasingly demand that it mesh seamlessly with their smart phones, tablets and other personal tech. A Compass Intelligence survey of smart phone-owning drivers released in December concluded that “the primary needs and wants out of technology…is the enhancement of the driving experience.”
Not the availability of anything and everything. Not the perpetuation of traditional entertainment forms. Not easy access to FM and AM radio. Not FM or AM radio at all, per se, but “the enhancement of the driving experience.”
So the technology – and the content that streams through it – either enhances that experience or not. It informs or educates or answers questions or anticipates needs or solves problems or entertains….
Or it’s not what today’s consumer wants.
Expect to see Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto debut in 2015 production cars. Each allows a driver to plug a smart phone running Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android operating systems into a car’s USB port and control it from the infotainment touch screen. Although consumers are eager to adopt CarPlay and Android Auto, car manufacturers are less than thrilled to share space on their proprietary infotainment systems out of concern that Google and Apple could gain access to the trove of data about a car owner’s location, purchases and other personal information. The duopoly theoretically compels manufacturers to choose one system or the other–Apple has signed up Mercedes, Volvo, Jaguar and BMW–but the reality will probably more closely resemble the compromise Hyundai will unveil at CES: an infotainment unit that integrates both the Apple and Android systems.
That is, the choice will be the consumer’s.
This is the shape of things to come to the auto dashboard. Ready or not, here it comes.
There is nothing you can do to prevent this or to head it off at the pass. It is not a sign of the apocalypse for radio – rather, it’s an invitation to compete on quality of content like never before. That will be great for those who compete and deadly for those who surrender.
You get to pick your own path.
Increasingly, “radio” is about content – not about legacy channels of distribution.
And while “local” you may be, your future is not about being that neighbor, it’s about being that good.