Auto makers showcase in-car entertainment apps at CES in Las Vegas

This report from the US Consumer Electronics Show has been filed for radioinfo by Trevor Long.

Anyone who knows me knows I love radio, I love technology and I love cars.  Tragic really, but also fantastic when all three come together at the largest technology show in the world, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
While the big stories were around 105 inch curved screen TVs and Electric toothbrushes that synchronise your brushing data with your mobile phone, in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Centre were a large number of car manufacturers showcasing their latest technology. It was stuff the radio industry has to be aware of and frankly get on board with.
Most people can still remember having a set of preset FM stations and another set of AM presets. I can still remember how awesome it was when I first found a car that allowed me to have AM and FM stations on the same set of presets.  Well things are getting a whole lot more advanced and radio as an industry needs to stay relevant to this new and emerging world.
Walking through the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Centre you can see clearly why it was important for ARN to launch iHeart radio in Australia.  That app is already part of the default functionality of several cars, so by being a local app it should mean it can stay in the cars when they are configured for Australia.
Holden is a good example in Australia, their MyLink entertainment system, already in a huge range of cars from Barina, Cruize, Colorado, Commodore and Malibu has several compatible apps such as Stitcher, Pandora and TuneIn Radio.
The way these in-car app systems work is to leverage the brains and power of your smartphone, so there is almost no software in the car itself.  The car is able to read from your mobile phone and use the console display of the car to be the screen for your phone and app controls.  In a Holden, you can listen to podcast content on Stitcher and flick through track after track using the steering wheel and see the track details and cover art on the main infotainment screen.
Ford has a very aggressive program called app-link, working with developers to not only leverage their apps into the car system, but also build apps that utilise data from the car – in the future we’ll know if certain songs make people drive faster:)
The issue we have in Australia, and the Radio industry (not just Australia’s but many countries) has, is one of relevance and scale.
Australia is huge, but we are nothing on a scale of population, so we need to hitch our wagon to some global initiatives to ensure relevance in this fast changing world.
ARN’s iHeart strategy is logical from a global corporate perspective, but also from a foot in the door, as app changes come to Australia.  Station by station I can’t stress the importance of ensuring you know how your TuneIn radio listing is operating, how the metadata is being served and how well you are able to track that listening.
Looking around at apps in market and considering how your station can utilise apps like Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, Rdio and others to enhance your offering to the audience so they stay familiar with your station even when they are listening to diverse content from across these apps will help with the retention of cume audience.
TSL is the most likely audience measurement parameter that is likely to suffer here.  While maintaining cume can be done through brand presence and content curation, at some point there must be a push away from radio and into on-demand services and apps to satisfy the needs of listeners.  If they keep coming back for the best and the curation of content – great, but keeping them listening to actual live radio will be a difficult challenge.
Are we up for it?

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