If you’ve been anywhere near a new car showroom lately, you’ll know that the big question many customers are asking isn’t “What’s under the hood?” but “What’s in the dash?” The new generation in infotainment systems are helping manufacturers move a lot of cars off the lots.
This is why GM is ramping things up with just-announced plans to turn their vehicles into rolling mobile phones. Starting in 2014, GM will wire all Chevys, Buicks, GMCs and Cadillacs (plus Opel and Vauxhall in Europe) with 4G mobile broadband.
Note that this option is NOT a piggyback on a mobile phone. It’s connectivity built right into the car.
Well, so what? Why am I writing about this on a website that’s supposed to be about music and broadcasting? Because this move has the potential to have earthshaking implications for radio.
Examples of what this new GM system might offer:
-Real-time traffic for what’s going on around you, not what’s happening somewhere else. That will impact stations that build themselves around providing traffic reports.
-Real-time weather for what’s happening right outside your vehicle, completely obliterating the need to tune in a radio station for the latest weather report.
-Easier access to online entertainment of all sorts. And where will that leave traditional radio stations offered over AM and FM?
And it’s not just GM. BMW and Volkswagen–both of which offer limited 4G options–will have to step up their game. Ford, which has had much success with its sometimes finicky MyFord Touch system, will have to do the same. And you can bet that Honda, Toyota, Mercedes and all the other big manufacturers have infotainment skunkwords programs.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear more on these plans today at the Mobility World Congress that’s currently running in Barcelona.