San Antonio — The Progressive Retailers Organization was at the Westin La Cantera Hill Coun
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.
The first market-ready Mobile DTV tuner for the car was shown by Concept Enterprises in a $499-suggested tuner due in early December.
Mobile DTV is a new TV format that streams the same local broadcast stations you receive at home to a portable or car device, and offers this free, without service charges.
The 12-Volt Awareness Initiative plans to spend $300,000 toward a viral video campaign to reverse waning interest in car stereo and electronics.
The campaign is set to launch Nov. 12.
The group hopes to follow up with a second campaign in the spring to drive “Dads and Grads” sales, it said during an open Webinar last week that drew about 100 industry participants who hope to create the first industrywide car stereo awareness campaign.
Despite the two-year window of growth ascribed to portable navigation devices (PNDs) before sales begin to decline, suppliers are still looking for ways to invigorate the category.
Garmin says it is looking into Wi-Fi as a possible add-on feature in the future, and both TomTom and Garmin are launching new cellular-connected PNDs with Internet search.
Ford will launch this October its previously announced venture with Best Buy to promote the car maker's popular Sync radios with voice activation.
Beginning in October, more than 30 Texas Best Buy locations will show consumers in clinics and demos how to use their mobile phones with the Sync. The Sync links with Bluetooth phones to allow traffic and weather updates and navigation with no service fees for three years.
Directed Electronics launched one of the first apps that will remotely start a car using an iPhone instead of a key-fob transmitter.
The Viper SmartStart app requires a $299 module that went on sale at Best Buy stores this month and will be available at other retailers in the fourth quarter. The app also requires a Viper remote starter, and Best Buy is offering a $499 package that includes the SmartStart module and a remote starter with door lock/unlock.