San Antonio — The Progressive Retailers Organization was at the Westin La Cantera Hill Coun
The car stereo industry ended the decade on a down note as the recession and slower car sales added to existing challenges.
The industry, however, took steps to combat the continued slide: the 12-Volt Initiative launched a viral video campaign to raise awareness, and a new group — the Mobile Electronics Specialists of America (MESA) formed to help retailers promote their stores and services.
After almost two years of delays, the Azentek car computer is expected to reach stores by March, said the company.
Azentek's most recent delay was caused by a decision to redesign the computer around Intel's automotive-grade Atom processor, because the earlier processors available would shut down in extreme heat, said the company.
Mobile DTV, the new free TV service for portables, is on display at International CES from more than a half dozen suppliers, who plan to ship their wares this year.
Mobile DTV differs from current ATSC TV broadcasts because it delivers clear reception even in motion. (See story above.)
After finalizing contracts, the Mobile Enhancement Retailers Association (MERA) has been officially purchased by InstallerNet, and its name has been changed slightly to the Mobile Electronics Retailers Association, now referred to as the “new MERA.”
Rosen Entertainment introduced what may be the first “virtual CD changer” in a car radio, under its A/V-navigation line of factory replacement radios.
The new factory look-alike radio includes a feature that records, in real time, up to five CDs in five different memory slots, so users can access their CD music from memory. A sixth slot lets users rip individual songs from different CDs for storage. Users can record over any CD recorded earlier.
Dual Electronics will ship in November one of the first kits to convert an iPod Touch to a portable navigation device.
The kit is designed to enable the estimated 24 million iPod Touch devices in the marketplace to receive a GPS signal for turn-by-turn directions and to also use other location-based service apps, said Dual president and CEO Jim Braun. TomTom's recently introduced GPS kit, for example, only works with the iPhone and not the Touch.
Several prominent car audio independent specialists recently launched a new buying group under the name Mobile Electronics Specialists of America (MESA).
The group is member-owned and focuses on marketing and branding. Through pooling marketing expenses, MESA is able to give its members a choice of 10 custom radio ads for $175 for production, as well as an ultra-low-cost cable TV ad, said Mike Cofield, president of MESA and president of Austin, Texas-based Custom Sounds.