Tuesday, July 1, 2014

AM and FM own the auto dashboard and always will...

By Don Keith N4KC

Google will soon stake a major claim on your car's dashboard.  To counter Apple's CarPlay, the Google folks took time from putting all those World Cup cartoons on their search home page to introduce Android Auto.

Take a look HERE.

Remember when the middle of the dash was dominated by the ubiquitous AM/FM radio with CD player?  Heck I remember when it was just an AM radio.  Then FM came along.  Then 8-track tapes and eventually tape cassettes and finally the compact disc.

Many AM operators ignored FM.  Where is AM radio today?  Then FM operators pooh-poohed 8-tracks, and cassettes.  They were pretty much right since those technologies were so clunky.  CDs didn't appear to be a threat, either, since the average-quarter-hour shares were still based on 100%...100% of people listening to radio...not a percentage of the whole population, many of whom were finding other things to listen to, like CDs.  Radio still tries to sell its air time using shares...a percentage of people listening to radio, not a percentage of all the people out there in the population.

In the car?  What else you going to do but listen to "The biggest hits of the 80s, 90s and today on FM108!!!"  Or "The biggest and best country, Yahoo 95.7!"  Or three guys arguing for an hour about whether the Padres have the pitching to challenge for the division title?

No wonder people began preferring CDs to dull, boring personalities and two ten-minute chunks of commercials every hour.  Or they listened to audio books.  And people began talking on their cell phones instead of listening to radio or CDs.

But shares of audience were still based on 100%...of people listening to radio.  Even if people listening to radio were becoming fewer and fewer and for much less time.  The radio still dominated the dashboard, after all.

No more.  That big chunk of real estate to the right of the steering wheel has become far more than an AM/FM radio receiver.  Choices are becoming almost infinite.  

Can traditional radio still play a big part in what people do in their cars?  Can Yahoo 95.7 still be a significant part of CarPlay and Android Auto?

Sure they can.  But they won't.  Talent costs money.  Creativity runs risks.

Why should radio spend money and take risks to produce compelling content that keeps them a part of the auto dashboard?  AM and FM own the dashboard, right?

Will the last one out of the last radio station please turn off the transmitter?

(Note: just a reminder that I am on record as predicting that the current AM broadcast band will be given to the ham radio operators by 2025.)

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