By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Introducing Echo Auto, “The first Echo for your car.”
List price: $49.99 – and just $24.99 with free shipping to gazillions of Amazon Prime members who can ask Alexa to play your station’s stream — or to simply ask for a song, and hear it without you.
While AM/FM broadcasters cope with new-tech dashboards that already make stations hard to find, Amazon describes a new smart speaker that:
- “Connects to Alexa using your phone, is ready in seconds, and plays through your car speakers. Includes Echo Auto Dash Mount.
- With 8 microphones designed for in-car acoustics, Echo Auto can hear you over music, A/C, and road noise.
- Use your voice to play music, check news, open the garage door, find the nearest gas station, and more.
- Play Audible books, stream podcasts, or listen to Amazon Music, Spotify, Sirius XM, or NPR.
- Make calls, set reminders, add items to your shopping and to-do lists, or manage your calendar.
- With over 50,000 skills, Alexa is always getting smarter. Skills are like apps and let you do more with Alexa.
- Set location-based routines—automated actions Alexa can start when you leave the office or get home.
- Ask for directions and connect to supported apps like Google Maps, Apple Maps, or Waze on your phone.”
And Doesn’t all THAT make “Traffic-and-Weather-Together on-the-8” sound like your father’s Oldsmobile?
JUST AS we’re told that…”Over Half of Daily Radio Listeners Only Listen In-Car”
per the latest edition of the Edison Research Share of Ear Study.
First, the good news, Edison’s Larry Rosin: “Radio’s in-car reach remains phenomenally high and unchanged since we last updated this study in 2011.” “However,” he adds, “this does not mean that nothing has changed in the in-car environment,” not-the-least-of-which is this Alexa-on-wheels development.
Radio broadcasters are already in Good News/Bad News mode with smart speakers: Good: They bring radio – via station streams – back in-home, where a smartphone app replaced the clock radio of yesteryear, and countertop TV bumped radio out of the kitchen (where more ratings diaries are filled-out than any other room). Bad: We’re competing with all the other audio information and entertainment Alexa serves-up on-demand. Weather, once a radio staple? Just ask. Music? When Prime members ask for The Eagles’ “New Kid in Town,” the irony stings.
This week, Larry is presenting at the NAB/RAB Radio Show in Orlando. If you won’t be there, we will link to the study when Edison publishes it.
Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet; and he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights on RT America. Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke