Kenwood Readies Lower Priced Car-Nav Alternative

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Long Beach, Calif. - Kenwood next year will launch its first A/V-multimedia head units that integrate with a navigation app on an iPhone, giving cost-conscious consumers a lower cost alternative to in-dash navigation units that start at a minimum of $700 in the market, said senior VP Keith Lehmann.

Kenwood will team with Garmin to develop head-unit compatibility with Garmin's iPhone navigation app, Lehmann told TWICE.

In-dash navigation sales have fallen this year because of the economy and because of navigation apps for smartphones, he said.

CEA statistics show that factory-level sales of in-dash navigation systems (excluding navigation-ready A/V-multimedia head units) fell 2.4 percent to 115,241 units from January through August. Navigation-ready A/V-multimedia head units rose 55.7 percent to 246,120 during that time.

Kenwood's new A/V head units will be especially useful for 12-volt specialists who don't want a potential navigation customer to walk because of price and don't stock portable navigation devices (PNDs) to sell to that customer, Lehmann said.

Kenwood will follow JVC and Pioneer into the market with head units that integrate with smartphone nav apps.

At International CES, Full Power launched an upgraded Motion X cloud-based iPhone navigation app to display maps and turn-by-turn driving instructions with voice prompts on JVC's large-screen A/V units while a vehicle is in motion. The app carries a $20/year subscription.

The Motion X app automatically recognizes JVC head units and reformats maps and other information for display on the larger JVC screens.  The app works with JVC A/V head units starting at around $449.

Also this year, Pioneer launched its AppRadio, a double-DIN AM/FM RDS head unit whose capacitive touchscreen can be used to control and display selected iPhone/iPod Touch apps, including Pandora Radio and a Cloud-based navigation service.

The $399-everyday AppRadio is promoted as the first car entertainment system -- OEM or aftermarket -- to use the iPhone as its primary source of content.

AppRadio comes with an external GPS antenna whose embedded GPS receiver overrides the iPhone's GPS receiver to deliver more accurate location information. The antenna also turns the iPod Touch into a navigation device.


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