We just returned from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The primary theme was Internet radio in the car. One of our portfolio companies, Livio Radio, announced FMConnect which allows terrestrial radio stations the ability to now take advantage of two-way communication (read; digital) utilizing the cell phone connected to your car’s entertainment system. Also Kudos to Fred and Paul Jacobs for inking a deal with Ford for their Ford Sync product. Unfortunately the car ecosystem is fragmented and confusing to a degree that is frightening. While developing an app for Ford is an attractive idea, keep in mind that this app will not work with all the other car companies’ entertainment systems. As currently stands a station would have to develop a different app for each car platform which is what Livio Connect is trying to eliminate. Livio is integrating with all car companies and their suppliers. Internet radio in the car can be achieved by many means as follows:
1) physical cable
2) Blue tooth
Some systems just mirror the phone with navigation still done on the phone. Others such as provided by Livio Connect allow listeners to control access to streams from the cars control. This makes controlling audio options much safer. This is also true of Ford Sync’s product but it of course is one of many in the car ecosystem and I don’t think that Chrysler is going to allow the Ford platform into their cars. Thus the need for a company like Livio which can work with all car companies because it has integrated into the chipsets of major suppliers of the in-car entertainment systems. Radio companies should leave getting connected in the car to auto industry experts given the vast, confusing world it represents and should partner with a company like Livio to deal with integration.