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RAIN 1/25: In-car Internet radio round-up!

Posted on: 01/25/2011


Whew! It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks for in-car Internet radio. Nearly every major car maker (and a slew of third-party retailers) has introduced some sort of dashboard Net radio system. And frankly, it’s tough to keep track of it all. That’s why today RAIN presents a round-up of in-car Internet radio:

FORD: AppLink Sync
Connection: Smartphone / Bluetooth
Available? Yes
The first major player to bring Internet radio to the dashboard, Ford’s AppLink Sync system was introduced at CES 2010 (RAIN coverage here). Pandora playback can be controlled through voice commands. The 2011 Ford Fiesta was the first car to get support (video walk-through here), with the Mustang reportedly up next (here).

TOYOTA: Entune
Connection: Smartphone / Bluetooth
Available? No, coming later this year
Toyota’s Entune system, debuted at CES 2011 (here) includes support for Pandora and iHeartRadio. Like Ford, Toyota’s system connects to the web via a smartphone and playback can be controlled through voice commands.

BMW: BMW Connected
Connection: Smartphone / Bluetooth
Available? App yes; compatible models in March 2011
BMW has released its own Internet radio aggregator smartphone app (built on RadioTime’s TuneIn Radio) which will interact with new models (like the one pictured) coming in March 2011. BMW is also working with AT&T on an “always-connected” car, which wouldn’t need a smartphone to access the web (here).

MINI: Mini Connected
Connection: Smartphone / Bluetooth
Available? Yes
Mini takes a similar approach to in-car Net radio as owner BMW. The company released its own Net radio aggregator app (RAIN coverage here) which connects to the 2011 Mini Countryman. Pandora and other smartphone apps can also be controlled via a gorgeous dashboard screen and stick-shift-like joystick. Tim Westergren demos the system here.

SMART: Smart Drive
Connection: iPhone + dock
Available? Yes
Car maker Smart released a $10 iPhone app and $300 car dock in August 2010 which included, among many features, Internet radio streaming. RAIN coverage here.

HYUNDAI: Pandora integration
Connection: Smartphone / Bluetooth / USB
Available? No, coming in 2012 Veloster
Hyundai’s 2012 Veloster will come with dashboard support for Pandora, along with a strange third door (RAIN coverage here).

GM: MyLink
Connection: Smartphone / Bluetooth
Available? Later this year
GM’s MyLink service, a part of its OnStar platform, will use a smartphone to stream Pandora and other web services. The service is coming to all 2011 OnStar-equipped GM models, starting with the Chevy Volt (RAIN coverage here).

MERCEDES-BENZ: Pandora integration + Terminal Mode
Connection: Smartphone
Available? No, 2012 models
Mercedes-Benz’s 2012 models will come equipped with Nokia’s Terminal Mode system, which links up with a smartphone to pull down web content like Internet radio (more here). Additionally, Pandora CEO Joe Kennedy announced in October 2010 that the service would be included in upcoming Mercedes models (RAIN coverage here).

Connection: In-car Wi-Fi hotspot
Available? Yes, since 2009
Back in 2009 Chrysler began offering in-car Wi-Fi service called UConnect. Though the service includes a monthly fee, it requires no smartphone to access the web. So any Wi-Fi device could get online and stream Net radio. RAIN coverage here.

VOLKSWAGEN: Net-connected dashboard
Connection: ?
Available: No, testing reportedly this year
In August 2010 Jennifer Lane reported VW was working on a Net-connected dashboard system, with an emphasis on “Hybrid Radio.” Testing reportedly would begin in 2011 (more coverage here).

This list doesn’t even touch third-party sellers like Pioneer, Alpine, Kenwood and others that offer dozens of car stereos with Internet radio support.

We’d also like to point out that most, if not all, in-car Internet radio systems use Bluetooth to stream music from a smartphone to the car stereo. This means ANY Net radio app can easily be played on the dashboard, though you won’t be able to control playback with touchscreen buttons, fancy joysticks or voice commands. — MS


Webcasters and other professionals involved in the Internet radio industry have (at least) three educational opportunities this week, as Abacast, the Conclave, and SoundExchange will host free “webinars.” In chronological order:

Tomorrow Abacast will host a webinar examining the threat to radio radio posed by “hyperlocal” online companies like Groupon, Patch, Reach Local, and DataSphere — and how to compete against them. The event, called “Competing and Winning Against the New Threats to Radio,” is sponsored by Radio-Info, and will be hosted by Abacast’s Michael Dalfonzo with guest Mel Taylor of Mel Taylor Media. Read more and register for the 1pm ET (12N CT) event here.

Also tomorrow, the Conclave presents the free webinar “Community & the Social Media Equation” (3pm ET, 2pm CT) featuring author Eve Mayer Orsburn. She is CEO of Social Media Delivered, a social media company which offers strategies for LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and blogs. She is also author of the book Social Media for the CEO. Preregistration for the webinar is necessary to participate, here.

SoundExchange is hosting its another webinar for webcasters and other music service providers on Thursday at 2pm ET. SoundExchange tells us it’ll be “a no-holds-barred Q&A with our legal team, finance folks, leadership, and communications staff… (to) discuss the new webcasting rates and terms — what they are and who they affect.” First Amendment, copyright and trademark attorney Kevin M. Goldberg will also participate. Register (and submit questions in advance, if you like) here.


AOL on Monday launched a late-night comedy block of video podcasts from comedian/radio personality Adam Carolla (pictured left), along with Kevin Pollak and director Kevin Smith. The program includes “my best rants, best jokes, best ideas,” according to Carolla, with visuals added.

“The idea is to take these very popular podcasts with their very rabid audiences and find a platform-appropriate way to create a programming block,” said Amber Lawson, AOL’s head of programming. The Hollywood Reporter has more coverage here.

“Dear Radio Industry,” begins Mark Ramsey in his analysis of the deal (here), “please explain to me why this deal is being done by AOL instead of you.”


Triton Digital Media has announced the launch of Triton Digital Labs, a free service for its clients, which it calls “a testing ground“ to measure and analyze the success of radio programming and on-air and online promotions.

“In today’s world, where audiences have so many choices as to how they consume music, loyalty and engagement are more important than ever,” said Bob Walker, Program Director at WCTK, one of the first stations to use the new service. “Using Triton’s online tools improves our measurement and engagement with our listeners, and that’s something that our advertisers benefit from as well.”

Read the press release here.

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