The Race to Own the Car Dashboard

ANDROID_INDASH-ma 150pixA big announcement at CES in Las Vegas on 6 January 2014, that could impact radio: Google has teamed up with Audi, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai to form the Open Automotive to bring Android to the dashboard in 2014.

Google will work with car manufacturers to “enable new forms of integration with Android devices”, and on “adapting Android for the car to make driving safer, easier and more enjoyable,” says Patrick Brady, director of Android engineering. “Wouldn’t it be great if you could bring your favorite apps and music with you, and use them safely with your car’s built-in controls and in-dash display?” Brady said.

Apple announced they were getting into the in-car app business over 6 months ago.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out as Apple is known for their “closed system” while Android  boast an open platform. In theory, it should be easier for car manufacturers and other third party providers to interface with the Android applications.

As all this rolls out it has the potential to have a huge impact on radio listening. Radio stations that are on these platforms should benefit, but those that are not may see a real decline in tuning. As much as 40% of radio listening happens in the car and that figure is higher in urban markets where the commute times are longer.

The real potential here is to attract the under 50 demos back to radio via the connected dash, because they are so used to consuming media on their smart phones, getting this tech savvy generation to use the tools on the more sophisticated in car dashes should be a no brainer.

2014 could shape up to be very interesting as both Android and Apple race to get these products in cars rolling off the assembly lines. If your radio station does not have a presence on IOS and Android that is easy to use and provides more full interactive presence, then this is something you need to look at.

It will not be long before the average in-car commuter has the option of AM, FM or Internet radio right on the dash. In Canada, radio does not have to compete with Pandora or Spotify at this point, but as these company’s get stronger south of the border it cannot be too long before we see this type of competition up here.

The other big announcement from the Vegas technology show was from GM. The company announced at CES that beginning this summer, its Corvette, Impala, Malibu, and Volt will offer OnStar 4G LTE as extra-cost options, with the Equinox, Silverado, Silverado HD, Spark, and Spark EV following sometime after. Each car will essentially function as a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot, letting passengers and families connect several smartphones, tablets, and laptops to the Internet at once. No word on the pricing of this or the cost of the data.