SiliconFilter

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

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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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12:00 pm


Microsoft’s Last CES Keynote: Old Demos and Very Little News

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Microsoft's keynote at CES this evening felt like a cruel joke. Hosted by Ryan Seacrest and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, the keynote was anticipated widely, especially because it was Microsoft's last appearance on the keynote stage for the next few years. Judging by today's performance, they won't be missed. Microsoft demoed Windows Phone, Windows 8 and Xbox on stage. Virtually nothing shown on stage was new. For close to one hour and fifteen minutes, Microsoft basically only showed us things that it had already announced in 2011.

In some way, the keynote felt like a huge middle finger to CES. It's almost as if Microsoft, which had already said that CES didn't quite fit into its rhythm of announcement anymore, wanted to drive this point home by announcing close to nothing. It's hard to imagine that anybody in the audience wasn't already familiar with Windows Phone and the Windows 8 interface, after all.

The Only Real Piece of News: Kinect for PC is Coming Feb. 1st

Only after the first hour was over did Microsoft give us something new: a launch date for Kinect for PC: February 1st. Of course, we already knew it was coming to the PC – we just didn't know the date.

All of the PCs and phones shown in the demos were already announced, the Windows Phone and Windows 8 demos were slick – but probably because the presenters had a chance to hone their skills over the last few months of giving virtually the same presentation over and over again.

And Here's Xbox – And a Tiny Little Bit of News

At one point during the Xbox demo, which included two other minor snippets of news – a partnership with News Corp. and a Sesame Street app – Microsoft decided that it was about time to show that you can play music videos on the Xbox… and to make it clear that this was really a music video, we got to see all of it (or at least the audience in the keynote hall did – the livestream cut out at that point because of copyright concerns). 

Maybe the oddest moment of the show, though, was an appearance of the "Tweet Choir." Writing this a good hour after their appearance, I'm still not sure what they were singing about…

Even Ryan Seacrest seemed to be getting impatient towards the end of the show: "Steve, you know something we don't know yet. What's coming next?" Ballmer's answer: "Windows 8." You can't make this stuff up…



7:49 pm


Report: Apple Will Dominate the Tablet Market Through 2012

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Just about a year ago, there was virtually no market for tablet computers. There were rumors that Apple could launch a tablet, but a lot of pundits still dismissed the idea that consumers would actually want to buy such a device. Apple, of course, launched the iPad to a lot of hype in April 2010 and sold over 3 million within the first three month of sales alone. There is clearly a market for these devices out there, but for now, Apple is really the only player in this business.

According to Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, this situation won’t change much in the next two years.

Forecast: 44 Million Tablet Sales by 2015

Forrester just revised its US consumer tablet forecast for 2010 up to 10.3 million units. Next year, the company’s analysts believe, tablet sales will more than double to 24.1 million units – though the company also thinks that the “lion’s share will be iPads, and despite many would-be competitors that will be released at CES, we see Apple commanding the vast majority of the tablet market through 2012.” Looking ahead, Forrester forecasts that 82 million U.S. consumers will be using tablets in 2015 – with yearly sales reaching 44 million.

forrester tablet forecast graph

Replacement Rates More like MP3 Players than PCs

Another interesting aspect of this forecast is that Forrester believes that the replacement rate for iPads will be similar to that of MP3 players and iPhones – meaning consumers will upgrade these devices more often than, for example, PCs. Indeed, Forrester expects that a lot of first-generation iPad owners will buy the iPad2 – which will surely be released later this year.



10:23 am


Opera Previews Touch-Optimized Browser for Tablets and Netbooks

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Opera, the Norwegian browser developer, just announced a touch-optimized version of its browser that it will demo at CES. This new browser, which is optimized for tablets and netbooks with touchscreens. In its demo, Opera is showing off a first demo of the software on an Android device.

Details about the new browser are quite sparse and the demo doesn’t offer any additional details, but it’s good to see that the company is investing in this market as well. Opera already has lots of expertise in developing for touch-enabled phones, so making the move to tablets is a logical next step.

According to Christen Krogh, the company’s chief development officer, “In 2011, tablets are a new must-have. […] Opera for tablets brings the same trusted Internet experience to tablets and netbook PCs as users have come to love on their mobile phones and desktops.”

Opera has been through somewhat of a renaissance in the last year.



11:40 am