Saturday, September 10

No iPod in your car yet? Don't worry, you will soon

One of the announcements I found interesting in the Apple keynote this week, buried by the announcement of the Motorolla ROKR and iPod Nano, was that according to Apple, 30% of all new cars sold in the US in 2006 will ship with iPod connectivity either standard or an option. That's a lot of marketshare in the automotive audio market, all in a couple of years, but no more than in handheld music players, where Apple enjoys more than 70% marketshare in the US and elsewhere. It's going to happen in car audio too - it's almost unstoppable. Steve Jobs announced that Honda and Toyota would both be adding iPod connectivity in all their new models for 2005.

If I were a manufacturer of car audio systems, I'd be angling for a Motorolla-style iTunes client licensing deal as soon as Jobs' schedule has an opening. If iTunes isn't running on your auto head unit next year, you won't have much of a business in five years. Car audio manufacturers have one advantage over mobile handset manufacturers that might help - with the exception of Sony, the car audio manufacturers have never believed they are operating system magnates.

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