Until now, listening to services like Pandora in your car has been a bit of a kluge. Yes, you can wire to your audio-in jack (assuming you have one, and it’s a travesty that it took car companies so long to include it). The challenge has been bringing internet radio to your car easily.
At CES, Oxygen Audio is introducing O’Car, a car stereo that uses the iPhone as an integral part of the system. You snap your iPhone into the unit, and you’ve got full integration. It supports a bunch of features: GPS, iPod, traditional radio and – of course – internet radio.
The hurdle O’Car will have to overcome is fairly obvious – cars come with stereo systems that are built into the dashboard, often seamlessly as part of the design itself. Getting people to install a new unit will be a challenge. Still, we expect this kind of integration to continue. BMW is introducing a factory-installed system that integrates the iPhone starting with the 2011 MINI. The folks at Revision 3 filed this report:
OK, so why should local media care? For starters, this is another way around local radio’s broadcast. Locals need to partner with online services and get onto apps now. It’s good to have your own app, but you need to be on apps that aggregate stations. You also need to promote this service. And local TV should be on notice: there’s no reason why an iPhone or similar device can’t power a backseat monitor.
Update: Here’s an iPad wired into a car