Media consumption habits continue to shift in the markets of television, radio and music. One area of consumption that seems to lack attention but may be one of the largest markets of content consumers have ever known is inside the average consumer's car. Drivers used to be stuck with whatever they could find on the radio dial, but that has changed over the past few decades. First, tape and CD players gave drivers the ability to play a specific set of songs at any time. Then the mp3 player came onto the scene in the late 90s, making even larger amounts of music portable. On Jan. 5, 2001, satellite radio entered to provide even more options to consumers. The iPod would soon follow on November 10, 2001. But how much would any of these changes actually modify the make-up of cars and consumption habits? As of 2008, BMW, Chrisler, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan and a number of other car manufacturers built in either XM or Sirius radio receivers to their cars. Hyundai and Toyota actually put both in. Beginning in 2009, GM started offering optional radios that include USB ports for portable media players. Ford had already had USB ports in several cars.
USB and auxillary ports in cars give consumers more options than ever. While they can access satellite radio channels and FM stations from their smartphones, they can also completely avoid the radio. Some consumers, like me, rarely use the radio when they have the option of playing music from their own device. Podcasts bring even more competition into the market, offering content that individuals can consume at any time and can replace talk radio for many individuals. 29 percent of Americans have listened to an audio podcast, and one in four podcast consumers plug their MP3 players or smartphones into their car audio system "nearly every day."
Ford has been a leader in the industry by giving consumers the ability to interact with technology while driving by teaming up with Microsoft to create the Ford Sync, which gives users the option of using auxiliary, USB or bluetooth audio to play music while using bluetooth to complete phone calls. It also has the ability to provide drivers with stock quotes, sports scores and the weather in addition to the built in GPS.
A driver in the year 2013 can link their phone with their car, so that they can receive text messages and phone calls while they listen to this morning's New York Times through Audible and have weather updates and a map on a screen in front of them on the dash of their car. If this trend continues, I can only imagine what the inside of cars will look like in 20 years.