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Mech-less radios, or those that play music from iPods but don't have CD mechanisms, are still a small niche, but one that is performing well for a few suppliers.
Approximately 145,000 mech-less radios sold last year from January through October, according to The NPD Group, up from about 25,000 the year prior.
Clarion said it sold out of its earlier mech-less model, FB275BT, and is expanding to two models.
Alpine claimed its aggressive push in mech-less receivers has helped it win a 50 percent share in the $399 and higher head-unit category.
Jensen, however, decided not to enter the category after showing a model at CES last year.
For 2009, Alpine is adding a flagship A/V mech-less iXA-W404, plus two other CD-less head units.
Clarion is planning to deliver its two new AM/FM/CD-less head units in April, including the FZ409 and FZ709. They offer USB iPod control and work with most media devices including USB drives. The FZ709 adds built-in Bluetooth hands-free calling and A2DP audio including music streaming from an iPhone. The radios have button-less OEL displays (but are not touchscreens). Target retails are $179 and $269.
The Alpine iDA-X303 and iDA-X305 are Works with iPhone and Made for iPod ready and offer iTunes tagging with an optional tuner. The single-DIN units each have a large front-panel knob with an encoder and are Bluetooth, satellite radio and Imprint compatible. The basic iDA-X303 has a suggested retail target price of $199, making it less expensive than Alpine's 2008 mech-less models by $50. The iDA-305 adds a built in 2.2 inch TFT display at $350. Both ship in February.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.