Guest columnist Mark Ramsey is a media strategist, research analyst, author, and producer of the annual Hivio audio future festival. This article was originally published on his Mark Ramsey Media website.
I have written a lot about the coming transformation of the auto dashboard and my belief that, in the long run, it will be the domain of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – that these platforms will squeeze out most alternatives.
Why? Because consumers will exert their will on automakers and demand that their dashboards are not only as powerful as their smartphones but that they are identical to them (at least within the constraints of driver safety, a sacrifice any driver understands even if he doesn’t respect it).
This will become even more true when cars self-drive and the passengers are left to self-entertain, using their eyes as well as their ears.
Now USA Today reports that Android Auto is coming to more than 100 car models in 2017:
The auto industry is racing to keep up with the growing demand. Less than a year ago, fewer than 50 vehicles were offering one or both, or were scheduled to. For the 2017 model year, the list has grown to more than 100, and more announcements are expected in the coming months. General Motors now offers both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on 30 models. Ford wasn’t even on the list a year ago, but for the 2017 model year it becomes the first full-line vehicle manufacturer to offer Android Auto and CarPlay on every vehicle line it sells, including its luxury Lincoln brand.
Toyota is one of the lone holdouts, and as a user of their latest and greatest proprietary system, I can tell you if they don’t wake up and smell the coffee I, for one, will never buy another Toyota again.
This transformation, I believe, is inevitable. And the consequences for folks in the radio space are unchanged from what I have argued previously:
Folks who want to use the radio in their mobile devices (a.k.a. “cars”) will continue to have access to radio. Nobody seems to be talking about stripping good, old-fashioned radios from new cars (except in a few cases for AM radio only). And why would they? It’s still the easiest, safest, most desirable and familiar entertainment platform for the vast majority of consumers on the road.
But change is in the wind.
And as the dashboard UX becomes as easy, familiar, and powerful as the mobile phone UX (which is precisely the intent of Carplay and Android Auto), behavior will gradually and inexorably transition to those platforms and the device which drives them: The smartphone in your pocket.
So that means the future will not belong to mobile phones jerry-rigged to receive radio on FM chips (sorry, NextRadio), nor will it simply belong to radio brands which exist on all platforms (streaming, on-demand, apps, FM, etc.), and it will certainly not belong to brands which assume that old “radio dial” habits will never die, because old habits die all the time (Fax me if you want proof).
No, the future will belong to brands which are unique and compelling and demand to be listened to, watched, or otherwise experienced.
Brands which are “pull” rather than “push.”
Brands which motivate habits rather than depend on them.
Be that kind of brand. And the auto passengers of tomorrow will go out of their way to find you.