Alpine Surveys Retailers On Car Audio's Future

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TORRANCE, CALIF.

— Integration with iPods, iPhones, iPads and other smartphones will be more important to the future growth of aftermarket mobile-electronics specialists than Internet radio, mobile digital TV, and HD Radio, Alpine dealers believe.

Alpine surveyed its mobile-electronics specialty dealers earlier this year during a nationwide dealer-training tour, where 574 owners, installers and salespeople responded to a written survey questionnaire. The majority of the respondents represented small single-store retailers, although representatives of Car Toys and regional chains, such as Al & Eds, also responded. Multiple representative of a particular retailer voted.

Alpine provided a list of technologies for the dealers to rate in order of importance. Although the company allowed for participants  to write in technologies not on the list, Alpine did not get any substantial write-ins for any technologies not on the list, said Steve Brown, product promotion manager.

The technology described by dealers as most important to their growth in the next 12 months was iPod/ iPhone integration, cited by 91 percent of respondents as a “must-have technology.” Such integration enables consumers to control the selection of iPod-stored songs and videos from their aftermarket head unit for playback through a car audio or car video system.

Products that integrate Bluetooth with a car sound system were considered a must-have technology by 78 percent of respondents, followed by iPad integration, cited by 50 percent of respondents.

Other technologies were cited by less than half of respondents as must-have technologies. BlackBerry integration was cited by 46 percent, and 41 percent cited head units that control an Internet radio app loaded on a connected smartphone.

Next came satellite radio, cited by 38 percent, as was integration with Droidbranded smartphones.

HD Radio was described by 29 percent as a must-have technology, and digital TV, either of the FLO TV or Mobile-ATSC variety, was cited by only 26 percent as a must-have.

Most of the technologies not cited by a majority as must-haves nonetheless were cited by a plurality of respondents as “somewhat important.” Fortyeight percent named satellite radio as somewhat important, followed by HD Radio at 44 percent.

Next came Droid integration at 41 percent, digital TV at 40 percent, and Internet radio at 38 percent.

The highest percentages of “don’t care” responses came for digital TV (34 percent) and HD Radio (27 percent).

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