IMDA looking to set in-car web radio standards by early 2013

Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 12:00pm

IMDAThe Internet Media Device Alliance (IMDA) is reportedly looking to establish industry standards for in-car Internet radio. "The idea is to help broadcasters get what they want out of car radios and to help the automakers have the best experience for their consumer," explains Harry Johnson, chairman of the IMDA and president of vTuner. "Consumers expect a basic set of stations that are the same no matter what kind of car they buy — it should not be a differentiating feature."

The IMDA hopes to issue a final set of in-car web radio guidelines in spring 2013. They would deal with topics like car device profiles, encoding guidelines, a "universal dial" and station metadata. The Alliance wants to establish such guidelines now, because automakers will begin "selling cars equipped with web radio effective with 2014 and 2015 models," writes Inside Radio. "When that happens, drivers will no longer be required to plug in their smartphone for connectivity and dashboards will be similar to the Ford Sync with the apps on the receiver — not on the phone."

"There is time now to do things properly and make the experience for drivers the best one that broadcasters can offer to them," Johnson said.

In-car web radioHe outlined two primary benefits for establishing such standards. First, it would avoid the "wild west" of confusing and conflicting technology seen when tabletop Wi-Fi radios arrived. "Broadcasters had no way of knowing which type of streams they were supposed to supply... it might play on a Samsung but not a Sony," explained Johnson.

Second, such standards would help broadcasters compete with webcasters like Pandora, "which are striking deals directly with car manufacturers," Inside Radio writes. You can subscribe to Inside Radio's daily newsletter here.

Arbtrion and Edison found that 17% of consumers have listened to web radio via a smartphone in a car (up 55% from the year before), while TargetSpot recently found that 14% of Internet radio listeners own an in-car web radio player of some kind. 

HTC showcases new smartphones' "one-touch" access to in-car web radio

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 - 11:35am

Phone maker HTC has released a new video showcasing the company's new Android smartphones' in-car web radio features. The phone connects to a car dashboard via Bluetooth or HTC's own in-car wireless 3.5mm connector (RAIN coverage here).

The phone then enters the "HTC Car" mode, which the company says puts 60,000 web radio stations "one touch away." It appears HTC Car's web radio directory is powered by TuneIn. It features location- and genre-based browsing, plus song searching.

You can find HTC's in-car web radio feature video below.

Chrysler to offer in-car wireless smartphone charging

Friday, April 13, 2012 - 11:55am

Chrysler's wireless chargingAutomaker Chrysler will offer the ability to wirelessly charge mobile devices in its 2013 Dodge Dart. Drivers will place their iPhone, BlackBerry, Android or other mobile device on a charging grid just below the center stack. The device -- if it has the required case -- will then charge, no wires required.

Smartphones already can stream Internet radio and other audio wirelessly in cars via Bluetooth. Looks like drivers will soon be able to leave one more cable at home too.

Boy Genius Report has more coverage here.

Aha's web radio service coming to Acura dashboards

Monday, April 9, 2012 - 11:40am

Aha's iPhone appHarman's Aha web radio service will be integrated into the 2013 Acura RLX, the companies recently announced. Aha offers a directory of Internet radio stations (including Slacker), as well as podcasts, social media newsfeeds and other on-demand infotainment content (more here).

Acura drivers will need to connect a smartphone to their dashboard through Bluetooth to use Aha. The service is also coming to Subaru and Honda dashboards, as well as through aftermarket Pioneer and Kenwood head units.

Aha GM and Vice President Robert Acker will discuss in-car web radio at RAIN Summit West, which takes place in less than a week. He'll join Sandhi Kozsuch of Cox, Carl Rohling of TuneIn, Jake Sigal of Livio Radio, Dan Steiny of Live365 and moderator Sam Milkman of knowDigital on "The Connected Dashboard" panel. Find out more here. has more coverage on Aha's deal with Acura here.

Garmin and Suzuki offer in-car 'infotainment' system, including Pandora

Monday, April 2, 2012 - 11:40am

Garmin's new in-dash system for Suzuki carsGarmin, one of the world's largest handheld GPS makers, has partnered with automaker Suzuki to offer an in-dash "infotainment" system. Of course, GPS functionality is a core feature, but the system also offers Pandora integration, Bluetooth audio streaming, an AUX audio jack and a touchscreen display.

Like other in-car web radio systems, Suzuki and Garmin's requires a connected smartphone. The system will ship with most 2013 Suzuki models.

Engadget has more coverage and the companies' press release here.

NPR SVP of Marketing: "Public radio is actually expanding"

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 11:50am

NPR News on the iPadAccording to the Pew Research Center, NPR's average weekly over-the-air audience declined slightly in 2011. But digital is where the growth is, says NPR CEO Gary Knell. "Our digital growth is exploding," he told the Nieman Journalism Lab.

Average weekly listening to NPR programming dipped 1.45% from 2010 to 2011, according to Pew's "State of the News Media 2012" report (RAIN coverage here). 

"Our view is that radio isn’t in decline; public radio is actually expanding," said NPR SVP of Marketing Dana Davis Rehm. 

CEO Knell recently stated, “Radio isn’t going away, it's going everywhere... We need to reach audience in ways convenient and accessible to them in emerging and traditional platforms."

Pew points to a few of NPR's digital achievements:

  • Traffic to NPR's website grew over 29% in 2011 (compared to 2010), reaching 17.7 million unique visitors according to Pew. 
  • NPR launched its Pandora-like Infinite Player in 2011 (RAIN coverage here).
  • NPR's apps were downloaded nearly 6 million times by the end of 2011.
  • Monthly downloads of NPR's podcasts grew 20% from 2010.
  • NPR's Facebook page was ranked #3 among the Top 10 fastest-growing news pages.

NPR also earlier this year partnered with Ford for dashboard integration of the NPR News app (RAIN coverage here).

NPR CEO Gary Knell

"NPR’s gotta be on there," Knell (pictured left) said of next-generation car dashboards. "Public radio’s gotta be a player. If we’re not on these platforms, we’re dead. This isn’t a choice of whether -- it’s really a choice of how."

SVP Rehm says NPR is working with member stations to measure streaming listening. This may or may not refer to NPR's addition of Triton Digital's Webcast Metrics to its Digital Services' suite of analytics offerings last week (NPR offers member stations an introduction to Webcast Metrics here).

Pew writes, "If NPR can attract new audiences to its projects across nontraditional platforms and continue to get funding to cover associated start-up costs, it could make up for the loss of terrestrial listeners."

The Nieman Jouranlism Lab points out (here) that weekly listening to NPR stations (in contrast to NPR programming) grew from 2010 to 2011.

"Still, the data in Pew’s report portends near-term challenges for radio," writes the Nieman Lab. The Pew report noted that "there is also evidence in the data that people listen to AM/FM out convenience rather than out of deeper appreciation for the content."

Pew published much more data on radio and Internet radio as a whole. The report includes figures on the growth of listening to online-only radio services (while listening to AM/FM web streams remains flat), and on the projected growth of digital radio revenues. You can find more from Pew here.

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