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As More Cars Get Connected, Are the Days of Radio Coming to an End?

For better or worse, our cars are slowly turning into Internet-connected gadgets. Chances are that by the time the 2015 models arrive, virtually every new car except for the most basic models will be able to connect to the Internet in some form. Unless the carriers decide to cap our downloads a 200MB, it's a safe bet that streaming media will take a good chunk of market share from good old radio and the days of the morning zoo drive time shows may (thankfully) be coming to an end. Today, quite a few drivers use their phones to stream music to their cars already, but overall, this is still a minority.

Connected Cars are Going Mainstream

As CES this week, one trend has clearly been towards brining more entertainment content to the car over the Internet.

Here are just the announcements from yesterday: NPR and Ford announced a partnership yesterday. HARMAN's Aha platform is being adopted by Honda and Subaru and also features content from partners like NPR, MOG, Slacker and others. Pioneer's Zypr platform will power Scion's BeSpoke connected infotainment audio system (PDF).

Today, Ford is also announcing that mobile streaming app TuneIn is now compatible with its SYNC AppLink platform. This will give drivers with compatible cars and phones the ability to choose between 50,000 AM, FM, HD and Internet-based radio stations and close to a million on-demand programs ready for streaming. All of this, of course, can be controlled by your voice or with the buttons on your steering wheel.

Also announced at CES: streaming radio service Slacker just turned on its long-announced (but somewhat delayed) partnership with ESPN. Slacker also lets you play news programs at the top of the hour, so if you use this service in your car, you won't even miss the news. Given that the car itself can probably pull in traffic data anyway (maybe with the help of the newly announced Scout.me service), chances are you won't even miss the old-fashioned traffic reports as your car will route you around traffic jams automatically.

Some forms of radio will probably be around for a while, especially talk radio, but it's hard to imagine that too many drivers will still be tuning their radios to any channel in a few years from now – but you will tune in by clicking on your car's or your phone's touchscreen. No dial needed.

Image credit: Flickr user Night_Owl

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