The Twisting Fate of Radio – It’s Just Another App

image from www.parrot.com In car music players are getting smarter and more versatile. At a time when people are searching for smarter ways to use their mobile devices and change songs without taking their hands off the wheel or their eyes off the road, one company has devised an answer. Parrot's Asteroid lets drivers make calls and select songs using voice controls. It also connects to GPS or to the Internet to use web radio apps. 

Asteroid is a palm-sized, detachable faceplate that goes in your dashboard.

"Music can be played from a number of music players or phones, a USB, or an SD card that slides in behind the faceplate," writes Amy Dusto. "The Asteroid has an amplifier and equalizer, but also contains outputs for a 6xRCA preamp and a subwoofer." While traveling, the driver simply calls out an artist's name and the music will play. If there's a 3G connection, online radio can also be streamed.

The Radio App

This means that for many drivers radio will be just another app – among many.

It's not unconceivable that car owners will ensure that their garage has a strong Wi-Fi signal. Upon auto-starting their car, cached web radio stations will update automatically. Apps like Pandora or Slacker will sit alongside traditional radio, as well as, services like MOG or Rdio. Once a song is favorited on a connected technology and designated to play offline, it will be synced with all other music players. Parrot's Asteroid puts a future like this much closer than we'd imagine.

Traditional radio has taken it for granted that their main competitors are iPods and satellite radio. Slowly but surely, having commercial radio in your car will be as significant as having iheartradio on your iPhone. Sure, traditional radio will be a standard in-car app, but so will Pandora and other services. If your iPod Touch can cache songs and stations, so can your car. Asteroid is another step on the way to making that happen. It will be a awhile before we have Asteroid and apps in our cars. But when we do, disruption is going to hit traditional radio and hard.

It Just Works

Like an iPad, as Steve Jobs might say, commerical radio 'just works'. Well, soon enough, so will every other music app, except they will be personalized, relevant, and maybe even commercial free. Over half of radio listening happens in the car.

And, over half of all web radio listening happens on Pandora.

In an interview with Forbes, Pandora founder Tim Westergren asserted, "I would be surprised if in five years the space did not look dramatically different.” It's hard not to see Westergren's point. The tools are there, consumers just need access to them. Once that occurs, radio will be just an app, an unappealing one at that.

Stay tuned – in or out or whatever – it'll be your choice now.

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