The number one item that car audio retailers would like to see at CES in January is not a quad core 4G tablet/deck for the dash.
Now that car audio specialists have become automotive system integrators, the number one products that retailers would like to see at CES are better integration devices to add Bluetooth and USB to factory radios.
In our short poll, dealers said they want these devices to work with a broader range of cars and they want them to be more reliable. They want better audio quality for the Bluetooth devices and they want more training by suppliers on how to install them. They even want more training on marketing them.
Dealers including Car Tunes of Santa Rosa, CA; and Mike’s Sound Solutions of Elk Grove, CA and Kingpin Car & Marine Audio, Wilsonville, OR; want to see devices that work with more cars, either more European models or car brands such as Ford and Nissan.
Mobile One, New Orleans wants more such add-on devices that are “cooler” and easily monetized.
John Getty of Safe N Sound, Bakersfield, CA wants more training in both installation and marketing for remote start bypass kits.
Eric Carter of Cartronix, Valparaiso, would like to see a Bluetooth device with WiFi that can be added to a radio. So customers who are looking for Bluetooth have a WiFi step-up option. He added, “But what I’m really interested in seeing is more marketing from some of the bigger brands, promoting their products and doing demos. So I could get ideas to do that here.”
Mark Andreas of Mike’s Sound Solutions would like to see more head units that work with video coming from an iPhone 5 or Android phone.
Kingpin would also like to see more products with HDMI inputs and “any kind of new technology with better connectivity to Android,” said Jason Kranitz. He also has a suggestion for suppliers; “I would like to see at CES a special that you could only get at CES. It would drive people to the show.”
Time n Sound of Orlando FL would like to see in-dash navigation at $400 (instead of $700 to $800).
Long Radio, W. Springfield, MA would like to see a lower cost WiFi hotspot for the car.
Gary Woodward of Hurley’s Auto Audio, Mclean, VA isn’t waiting for an introduction from mainstream suppliers. He would actually like to see more Chinese direct manufacturers. Woodward imports car rear cameras, parking sensors and a blindspot detector at a fraction of the cost he would pay a supplier. Not one to mince words, Woodward said, “I’d like to see more direct Chinese manufacturers and cut the manufacturers out of the middle who are irrelevant…I spent two hours on the phone waiting for tech support and then it wasn’t helpful. Turns out they’d never put a remote start in a Porsche either. So manufacturers are increasingly irrelevant.”
Most retailers agreed with Dave Gockel of Car Tunes of Santa Rosa, “We need more OEM integration for adding Bluetooth to factory head units, and streaming audio and USB integration…We need these for more models of vehicles. The only cars reliably covered are Hondas and Toyotas.”