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Digital Radio Options Confuse Consumers

Just when consumers have become familiar with new digital radio broadcasting technologies such as satellite radio, even newer protocols are targeting their car radios, according to findings from ABI Research.

“This year will bring a significant level of confusion to electronics consumers,” comments Frank Viquez, ABI Research’s director of transportation research. “In North America for example, not only will XM, Sirius and HD Radio receivers be readily accessible, but new multimedia broadcasting services such as QUALCOMM’s MediaFLO service and Crown Castle’s Modeo DVB-H service will be available as well. In Europe, no fewer than three competing firms are vying to launch their own satellite radio services in the near future.”

Across other parts of the world, several newly emerging digital broadcasting standards are also causing consumers confusion. In Korea, the launches of terrestrial and satellite-based DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) services have consumers scratching their heads as to which devices they should buy. In Europe, DAB’s (Digital Audio Broadcasting’s) lack of pan-European support has opened the door for competitors such as WorldSpace, ONDAS Media and Europa-Max to ready their respective satellite radio services for launch in the region.

Not only are consumers confused, so are automakers and their suppliers. The electronics design cycle is approximately 18-24 months, while the automotive design cycle is five years. Automakers need to know in advance which digital radio protocols they need to support and which they can leverage for their own objectives, for example CRM (customer relationship management) or telematics. Automotive suppliers are in a worse position, as they need to support most of these protocols and be ready to produce hardware as demanded by their OEM clients. The problem is compounded when they have to deliver product to the automotive aftermarket and need to anticipate potential customer demand as well.

ABI Research’s new study, “Digital Radio Automotive Markets” examines all the major digital radio protocols around the world and discusses the ways they address mobile receivers (i.e. automotive markets). Standardization efforts, market issues and opportunities are clearly laid out for each major region, as are current and planned efforts for both satellite and terrestrial-based radio and multimedia services. A thorough player profiles section is provided, as well as a detailed listing of international market participants.

The study forms part of the subscription “Automotive Infotainment Research Service” which includes research reports, industry and forecast databases, Vendor Matrices, regular market updates, ABI Insights and analyst inquiry time.

Founded in 1990 and headquartered in New York, ABI Research maintains global operations that support annual research programs, intelligence services and market reports in transportation, wireless, semiconductors, broadband, and energy. For more information please visit, or call +1.516.624.2500.

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