I’ve known Roger Lanctot for several years, coinciding with the time Jacobs Media and jācapps became very interested in connected cars. Oddly enough, Arbitron put us together for what turned out to be a successful joint “Super Session” at the Radio Show in Orlando back in 2013. It turned out to be a great collaboration. Roger joined us that fall at our first DASH Conference, and we continue to spend time together at events like CES.
Officially, he’s Director, Automotive Connected Mobility, Global Automotive Practice for Strategy Analytics. But I prefer to think about Roger as “the most connected person in the connected car space.” He knows everyone, meets with automakers, Tier 1 suppliers, and anybody and everybody who operates in this fast moving world of automotive mobility.
Roger’s been at this for a while, featuring more than 25 years of experience as a journalist, analyst, and consultant advising electronics companies, car companies, wireless carriers, and developers on product and market strategy.
He recently wrote a piece in response to Tesla’s decision to removed AM radio from its new Model 3s. You can read it here.
And he graciously agreed to pen this “Guest List” for our blog: “The 5 Things Radio Broadcasters Should Know About The Auto Industry.”
1. Car makers hate Apple and Google (Alphabet)
But they hate the high cost of developing and maintaining (software updates) infotainment systems (car stereos) even more. Apple and Alphabet are now telling car makers how to build their infotainment systems (screen size, resolution, refresh rates, colors, fonts, etc.) and, in fact, have certification authority over all new infotainment systems. In other words, radio is not a part of this conversation or process. Radio is not represented. So, radio is depending on the kindness of strangers to continue to play a role in the dashboard.
2. Car makers are desperate to differentiate
This is why no two infotainment systems/car stereos are alike. This is also why you occasionally get into a rental car and get angry because you can’t figure out how to turn the radio on/off, change the station or band, or alter the balance, fade or tone. This desire for differentiation actually represents an opportunity for radio – in contrast to the homogenization and commoditization offered by Apple and Alphabet.
3. Sound quality matters in cars
Sure, a car is a noisy environment. But car makers and their suppliers are becoming increasingly clever in developing echo cancellation and noise reduction solutions and personalizing increasingly high quality audio processing in their cars. You are also seeing the wider use of brand names to emphasize this movement toward higher quality sound in the car. The expansion of electrification of powertrains will broaden this trend – less noise.
With this handy list of blog topic ideas, your radio station's staff will never have writer's block again.
4. Curation matters
There’s a reason SiriusXM has been so successful. The stations may be identical across the entire country, making localization of content a challenge, but much of SiriusXM is still curated – just like broadcast radio. This is a big advantage over the playlist and shuffle approaches of Spotify and Pandora.
There’s nothing like a local human voice in touch with local news, weather, sports, traffic and … accents. Radio provides a non-distracting, regulator-friendly source of content and also happens to be a source of a lot of car maker and car dealer advertising – along with car insurance, car repair and maintenance. Radio is car-centric.
Bear in mind, though, that the entire reason that SiriusXM found a home in the car is the subsidies. SiriusXM bought its way in with kickbacks and subsidies to the car makers that now total in the billions of dollars. Radio has had a free ride so far – something to think about.
Car makers understand how to make car radios work in some of the harshest conditions and environments. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars to overcome external signal interference as well as electromagnetic interference in the vehicle – i.e. EVs have presented a challenge that GM and Nissan have overcome but that Tesla and BMW have thrown in the towel on.
Radio and car makers are partners in delivering quality curated content in massive localized quantities to hundreds of millions of cars. Surely these industries can find a way to more effectively align their interests and capitalize on their assets and resources for their mutual benefit.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
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