By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Car-to-home shuttle systems for satellite radio appear to be gaining popularity. XM and Delphi just announced the first three-way shuttle solution, and Kenwood and Panasonic say they are considering offering shuttles in the future.
In addition, Jensen is just now shipping a car-to-car system with a home kit planned for the fourth quarter, and Sony just began shipping a second-generation shuttle.
Sony, which has offered the only car-to-home shuttle system to date, has found success with the concept, with sales of 38,000 units to date, according to NPDTechworld, Port Washington, N.Y.
Bob Law, Kenwood sales and marketing VP, said shuttle systems are popular at the moment because there is no alternative solution for the home. But he cautioned, "There's been no model in our industry that anyone can point to with success where people move something from their car to home to enjoy music. When we used to have removable radios and companies made home units to accept them, no one bought them. So I don't think it's particularly convenient, but right now, it's the only solution available."
XM, however, claims that consumer focus groups and consumer requests were the catalyst for its introduction this month of the Delphi XM SKYFi shuttle system.
At the heart of XM's SKYFi shuttle system is a receiver/display that can work with a home kit, car kit or boombox.
The receiver, at $129 is unique in that it lets users view all the artist names and songs titles currently on the air. It is designed to fit into the home and car kits, each at $69, or the boombox at $99. All kits come with appropriate antennae and wiring.
The display on the main SKYFi receiver can be set to a large font size for displaying a title across the living room. It also offers remote control, 20 channel presets and direct channel entry from both the receiver and the remote.
The vehicle adapter kit includes a cradle with multiple mounting options, small magnetic-mounted antenna, cassette adapter and power adapter.
The SKYFi home adapter kit includes a home stand, high-gain indoor/outdoor antenna, AC power adapter and audio cable with RCA jacks to connect to the home audio system. The receiver/controller and home and car kits are available this month at Best Buy and Circuit City and the boombox is expected to follow by December.
Jensen just began shipping its universal Sirius adapter kit called the SRP2002, as well as a car to car shuttle kit with a home kit to follow by the end of the year. The SRP2002 is a display/controller unit with a separate receiver that plugs into a cigarette lighter. It comes with a magnetic antenna and cassette adapter, as well as RCA plugs and a jack for use with auxiliary inputs at a suggested retail price of $229. It can also work with an FM modulator, which must be purchased separately. Jensen also provides an SRA K2 kit for a second vehicle at approximately $149.
The home kit, at a price to be announced is expected to include an AC/DC power supply and a cradle stand.
In other product news, Panasonic recently announced that in January and February 2003 it will ship 11 new Sirius-ready head units, including a top of the line radio with both touch-screen controls and 3D display (known as GHOST and 3DDM). The top line unit will also offer MP3 and WMA and 60 watt by 4 MOSFET built-in amplifier.
Also available will be several units featuring new "black chrome" cosmetics, as well as flush face finish designed to resemble an OEM look. The company will offer day/night illumination throughout most of the 2003 lineup.
National marketing manager Robert Lopez said Panasonic is also looking at offering a plug-and-play shuttle type Sirius-based system, designed for use in both the home and car.
Both Pioneer and Alpine said they are not planning to offer shuttle systems at this time.
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.