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Pandora, Apple Apps Play Roles In Pioneer Line

1/17/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

LAS VEGAS — Internet radio services and Apple’s
iPods and iPhones are playing key roles in the 2011
product plans of Pioneer’s car electronics division.

The division came to International CES to expand
its selection of head units that control an iPhone’s
Pandora app to nine models from two at much more
affordable prices starting at a suggested $150. The
division also launched its first GPS cradle for iPhones
and iPod Touches and launched its first seven head
units with App Mode, which enables head units with
larger displays to play the video of USB-connected
iPhone and iPod Touch apps with Apple’s iPod Out
feature enabled, said marketing director Ted Cardenas. The head units play video only when the parking
brake is on.

App Mode appears in two mech-less “digital media
receiver” head units at a suggested $270 and $330,
three A/V receivers priced from $450 to $700, and
the company’s two 2011 A/V-navigation heads at
$800 and $1,200.

As for Internet radio, the company launched its first
Pandora-controlling head units last year in two A/Vnavigation
units at a suggested $1,599 and $1,099.
This year, the feature will appear throughout the company’s
line from two low-priced CD receivers starting
at a suggested $150 to the two new navigation units
priced up to $1,200.

Besides expanding Pandora control, the division
is also bringing another Internet radio service — Aha
Radio — to its lineup for the first time. Control of
Aha’s iPhone app appears in the company’s two
new navigation systems to deliver audible versions
of Facebook and Twitter, podcast streams, audible
reports of nearby traffic conditions, and ability to
hear nearby points-of-interest (POI) information.

For vehicles without navigation systems, the company
is launching the GPS-equipped Smart Cradle,
which improves the accuracy of an iPhone’s GPSenabled
location-based services and navigation apps.
The cradle features an embedded GPS receiver that’s
more sensitive than an iPhone’s GPS chip, and it
comes with external GPS antenna. Combined with a
built-in accelerometer and gyroscope to track speed
and direction, the cradle enables an iPhone’s navigation
app to stay in touch with GPS satellites in weaksignal
areas and show the vehicle’s true position when
buildings or tunnels block GPS reception, said Karen
Rubin, product planning director for navigation.

The cradle also features embedded amplified speaker,
hands-free Bluetooth, ability to rotate the Apple device
into portrait or landscape mode, and A/V output
to display the device’s video on OEM or aftermarket
displays. Pricing and availability weren’t announced.

In other line changes, the company is adopting
Clear Channel’s RDS-delivered Total Traffic Network
(TTN) traffic information service in its two A/Vnavigation
units to replace MSN Direct, which Microsoft
is turning off on Jan. 1, 2012.

Pioneer is expanding embedded HD Radio to
three models from two at prices starting at around
$150 from $200. One of the three is the company’s
first A/V-navigation unit with embedded HD Radio.
Two of the three feature iTunes tagging, though all
have iPod USB inputs.

It is bringing down the opening price of head units
with iPod USB inputs to $100 from $130 but not
expanding the selection of heads with the feature.

The company is also expanding its selection of head
units with stereo Bluetooth and Bluetooth AVRCP (audio
video remote control profile) to an additional SKU.
The two Bluetooth features enable the head units to
stream music from smartphones and control limited
functions of smartphone apps if the smartphones are
also equipped with stereo Bluetooth and AVRCP.

The company is also demonstrating its Network
Vision Heads Up Display concept, which projects
the display of a linked smartphone onto the driver’s
side windshield to display such items as caller ID
and navigation directions.

In other changes, the company said it is improving
its touch-slide feature on A/V receivers and
navigation systems. The interface reduces the need
for multiple layers of menus to quickly navigate the
user interface by touching and dragging the text on
the screen. This feature lets users navigate through
large media lists and search and sort by artist, album,
song and genre.

The company is also launching new speakers and
a subwoofer.

Pioneer has no plans this year to adopt Sirius
XM’s new universal black-box satellite-radio tuner,
Cardenas said. The company also isn’t launching
head units with dual iPod-USB ports.

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