OEM Integrators Move To 'Front-Room' Sales

By Amy Gilroy On Aug 20 2007 - 6:00am

OEM integration companies such as Aamp of America are expanding beyond "backroom" car adapters and moving into new products, including mainstream car audio.

Aamp just entered the vehicle-tracking market with the Street Eagle VTS and will launch a modular OEM integration "Gateway" designed for "front-room" selling this month.

The company also plans to partner with a "leading 12-volt company" and enter at least one additional car audio product category in January, said Aamp CEO/president Micah Ansley.

Metra said it will also introduce front-room products that represent a new category for the supplier in January. Blitzsafe and Dice just entered the home accessories market and Scosche has been expanding its home and portable accessories line.

Scosche said it is also planning "radically" new products in Bluetooth and OEM interface/iPod solutions at the fall SEMA show.

As the autosound market shifts away from head units in favor of OEM integration devices, some of the OEM integration companies are capitalizing on the trend to reinvent themselves.

"Scosche used to be known as a kit and harness company selling $20 dash kits. Now you need a dash kit and a $200 interface. So the opportunities are vast," explained sales and marketing VP Kas Alves.

Scosche's sales increased by 60 percent last year, with growth in 2007 expected to surge by 100 to 200 percent in OEM and iPod interfaces, said Alves.

Aamp's fastest-growing Peripheral division grew in sales by 30 percent last year and is expected to expand at a similar rate for "the foreseeable future," said Ansley. Aamp's overall growth was 13.9 percent last year.

Aamp said it is embarking on a plan to double in size over the next four years by entering new car audio markets and also by broadening its home theater/custom installation accessories business.

Ansley says custom home accessories could reach 10 percent to 15 percent of Aamp's overall sales. Aamp also beefed up its overseas sales under the Stinger brand by 25 percent last year.

The company is also heavily investing into a front-room OE integration device called the Automotive Multimedia Gateway under the Peripheral brand, slated for late-third-quarter delivery. It will be one of the first OEM integration devices to connect directly into the factory car's network, said the company.

The Gateway (first unveiled in January as the Gateway2Car) lets users control their iPod and add HD radio using only the factory radio controls, provided the factory radio is satellite radio ready. The unit also retains the satellite radio functionality.

The Gateway has a suggested retail of $179 for the main module with a choice of iPod or USB control, plus another $19.95 for a car specific harness. An HD radio tuner adds another $99.95 or customers can buy the full package at $299.

By early next year, a Bluetooth module will be available at $119. A plug-in module to add XM or Sirius will also be shown in January for users who want to switch from one service to another.

Aamp will offer retailers video footage for demonstration so that customers who own a Ford can press a button and see a video of a generic Ford radio and what can be added to it. "We'll do the videos and the retailers build the display," said Chris Cook, Peripheral strategic business director.

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