Many have debated what the in car audio solution will be. My vision is shaped by the device we all carry today that has so many functions. It’s hard to think about creating a new system to manage our audio in car experience. As a result my vote is for better integration with a car stereo system and display. Several auto manufacturers have taken this approach including Ford’s Sync which connects via Blue tooth. The way content is organized and displayed is the key. In car listening represents approximately 40% of all radio listening. Rather than the 20 choices you may have today (terrestrial radio) in your local market, with Internet radio you can now listen to thousands of different station or through services like Pandora, create your own station. Obviously this is going to have a significant effect on terrestrial radio listening and why pay for satellite radio (except where there is exclusive content). Terrestrial radio, given its fragmented nature (do most people know who Citadel or Saga is?) does not have a brand while Pandora has almost become the generic name for Internet radio. So while terrestrial radio will certainly be present both over the air and through streaming there are going to be many more options.
Given the risk of distraction while driving there are some companies such as Radio Time that are trying to make the enormous world of choice in Internet radio listening more organized in an easy to use guide. Radio Time has been working quietly behinds the scenes for many years to get their guide established in consumer devices. They are now gaining some traction in-car as well. Another company working to make the in-car audio experience better is Livio Radio. Livio has built devices and mobile applications where the display is customized for this environment. Livio has teamed with Pandora and Radio time to bring an enormous selection of Internet radio station including both Internet only and terrestrial stations that are streaming.
Within the next year we should see the future of in-car audio much more clearly.