Pandora may become so common in car radios that by next year, AM/FM/Pandora will be an every-day head unit description.
And Internet radio is fast becoming the rage in car electronics, as suppliers also include Livio Radio as well as Clear Channel Radio’s iheartradio in their car radios and add-on kits.
Smartphone use in the car is so pandemic, it’s paved the way for streaming Internet Radio in the car as the next hot trend. To do that safely, new car radios offer the ability to control the Pandora app on your iPhone from the car radio. And at CES, Sony is showing the first car radio to control Pandora running on Android and BlackBerry phones.
At CES, you can see Pandora control on 9 head units each from Pioneer and Kenwood, 4 from Alpine and multiple units from Sony. iheartradio will be shown in products from DICE Electronics and Rosen Electronics and DICE kits will also work with Livio Radio.
Car electronics is also stepping up its game in 2011 with Blu-ray capability in new radios and car monitors. At CES, Sony is showing the first prototype of an in-dash Blu-ray AV head unit. And Audiovox is showing several Blu-ray devices for the car.
As for Pandora, it is spreading like wildfire. Where last year, the feature started at a price of about $349, and was available on only a few models from Alpine and Pioneer, it is now at or below $200. Also, Alpine has the first units that let you create a Pandora station as you drive, from the car radio controls.
Helping to drive popularity of in-car Internet Radio is the rollout of faster 4G service. The Yankee Group believes 4G users will spend twice as much time on the mobile web than 3G users and their prime activity will listening to Pandora and Slacker and other music services.
4G was recently deployed in 38 markets by Verizon and is already in 68 markets from Sprint and many from T-Mobile and Metro PCS.