The evolution of the car dashboard: It’s all some folks in radio want to talk about. Understandably, since such a large fraction of radio listening happens while driving.
But isn’t it just the nature of disruption to change the conversation all at once?
And that’s what happened today with the news that consumers wanting Android Auto no longer need to wait to buy a compatible car to use the platform. Now the platform is coming to them!
More accurately, Android Auto software will run entirely on an Android phone, thus circumventing the stodgy and finicky infotainment system ordained by the automakers themselves. Android Auto will turn your phone into your dashboard display thus circumventing that display.
“Whether your phone is connected to a compatible car display, or placed in a car mount on the dashboard, Android Auto brings your favorite apps and services into one place, making them accessible in safer and seamless ways. You can bring your music with you with apps like Spotify, Pandora or Google Play Music, and make calls or send messages with hands-free voice commands. And of course, get turn-by-turn directions to your next destination with Google Maps.”
Anyone with a measure of tech-savvy who has ever had a bone to pick with their newfangled dashboard (and that’s almost everyone who’s tech-savvy), will view this announcement with great delight. And one can only assume that Apple will eventually follow suit with CarPlay
But that’s not all…
Isn’t it also possible that in future generations of the OS for both Android and Apple these apps will be baked in to the OS update, thus making them unnecessary to download and impossible to delete?
Why, yes, I think it is.
This will fundamentally change the locus of entertainment in the car and move it – safely – to the mobile device, where most consumers would be only too happy for it to reside.
And built-in mobile phone mounts will be the new cupholders.
While much perspiration has been shed over the prospect of radio being harder to listen to in cars with amped up technology on the dashboard, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
That’s because moving the place of entertainment and information from the dash to the phone will do more harm to radio listening (via traditional AM/FM) and do that harm faster than any kludgy dashboard ever could.
And what does it mean for radio?
Given the wealth of new listening options prodded along by transferring listening from the dashboard to the mobile device, we’ll see a shrinking of overall listening to radio with that listening moving to the most popular traditional radio alternatives: Pandora, Spotify, etc. Meanwhile we’ll see a greater fraction of radio listening moving to streaming via iHeartRadio and TuneIn and other radio-friendly apps built for Android Auto. Also, we’ll see listening moving to podcasts for that portion of the audience which consumes podcasts and has no easy way to do so via the dashboard.
Giving consumers what they want is always a safe bet, folks.
And all that drives home the point I have been making for years:
It’s not about the platform, it’s about the content, making it compelling, and delivering it however and wherever the consumer wants it.