TALKERS Consumer Electronics Show coverage by radio consultant Holland Cooke
By Holland Cooke
The last several years’ conversation about radio’s position in the new-tech dashboard remains largely academic. As new non-AM/FM audio competitors appear there – and drivers’ attention is shared with so many non-audio apps now factory-installed – draconian radio cutbacks continue to dilute the localism that would continue to make stations unique among competitors.
This has been a long time coming. Over a decade ago, we were plugging-in iPods. Ford’s ground-breaking Sync system is now in 10 million cars in the USA, and lets you take the apps you use on your phone and iPad on the road. In catch-up mode here at CES, General Motors is showing off their souped-up OnStar system.
The Connected Car’s focus at CES isn’t on radio’s dilemma.
Ten major automakers are exhibiting here. Among them, Mercedes Benz, showing-off its “F015 Luxury in Motion” concept car. NO driver. Inside, it’s shaped like a living room, seats-facing-each-other!
Remember the car Sandra Bullock and Sylvester Stallone rode in “Demolition Man?” It’s like that. Not even the robo-hack in the JohnnyCab that Arnold Schwarzenegger leapt-into in “Total Recall.”
Google has been testing its self-driving car for years; and here in Nevada, driver-less cars have been LEGAL since 2012.
In his keynote, Ford CEO Mark Fields told us “There will absolutely be a Ford autonomous vehicle on the road in the future.” He says his company won’t be first; but — like founder Henry Ford mass-producing the Model T — Fields’ goal is a vehicle that’s “accessible to the masses.”
It’s “The Internet of Things,” on wheels.
Radio should think as long term as Ford’s “Blueprint for Mobility,” which Fields says is being driven by 4 trends:
* Urbanization: There are 28 “megacities” today and there’ll be 40+ in a few years. “The existing infrastructure simply cannot sustain coming traffic.”
* Growth of the global middle class, which will double by 2030.
* Air quality
* Changing consumer attitudes and priorities: Millennials behave differently when it comes to mobility.
Among 25 experiments Ford has underway around the world: a car-sharing model in London. Users are charged by the minute, and half the fleet is electric. And, Fields notes, “as city dwellers share cars, there’ll be more available parking spaces.” LOOKING for a city parking space is a major waste of time and money and contributes to pollution. Ford is also developing a smartphone-based system for van-pooling. After all, they make vans. ;)
How can radio be as-forward-looking, and customer-centric? For starters, how interesting/relevant/useful is your local news?
Holland Cooke (www.HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant, working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet; and he covers conventions for TALKERS. Follow his real-time CES Tweets @HollandCooke.