How Long Before an App Takes Over from Radio When It Comes to Traffic Reports

There are plenty of radio stations across the world–thousands, probably–that tout themselves as the source of traffic information for drivers. There are even all-traffic stations like AM730 in Vancouver. Anyone who has to deal with commuting considers these stations indispensable. But for how much longer?

Whenever I’m in a hurry, I also consult Waze on my iPhone. Developed in Israel and later purchased by Google, it crowdsources traffic info from other Waze users to warn of slowdowns, hazards, accidents, police activity and more. The latest version even offers detours around trouble spots. And the best part of Waze is that it gives me information just for my route. I don’t have to listen to traffic report after traffic report to hear why I haven’t moved more than 15 feet in the last half-hour.

So are radio traffic reports–and thus the stations that run them–in trouble?  Maybe not. This is from a website called Strategy Analytics.

When Alphabet, aka Google, arrived on the automotive scene the company and its minions quickly grasped that there was going to be a big opportunity for search, voice, navigation, maps, traffic and contextual marketing and advertising messages.  It was also clear that there would be a growing need for more and more software and applications – providing tasty tidbits for Android and its growing developer community.

In spite of the many challenges for a dominant player in the mobile market to shift its content, services and applications to the cost, power and processing constrained automotive environment, Google dove straight in.  Within a very short time Google, now known as Alphabet, took charge of in-vehicle search, despite the persistence of CloudMade, Bing (now out of the automotive market) and deCarta (now owned by Uber).

The next step was to provide for the integration of Android-based smartphones for which Alphabet created the Open Android Alliance and launched the Android Auto platform which brought Google Voice, navigation, content and the GoogleNow contextual messaging platform into the dashboards of most of the leading car makers.

In the process, Alphabet, like Apple, began taking charge of in-vehicle integration efforts by introducing a certification program for the deployment of Alphabet services, content and applications.  Suddenly car makers discovered that they had handed the car keys to a search company.

Alphabet (and Apple) have now taken over certification of automotive center stacks to ensure that content is rendered with the proper colors, frame rates, resolution and fonts, among other things.  This is a bit of a shocking turn of events, but it all comes back to search.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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