When I got my first car (which we saved from the junkyard), getting a great car stereo system was my concern #1. It had to have all the bells and whistles back then (which, at the time, was an auto-reverse tape deck), and it ended up being more expensive than the car that held it was worth.
Nowadays, times have changed: I just ripped the great multi-functional radio out of my car and replaced it with a $99 radio that had an external input. Why? I just need to connect my iPod – I’m my own program director, thanks to podcasting.
The next thing I had to do was wire my bluetooth car kit to it, in order to be able to make and receive phone calls in the car (it’s prohibited to use a mobile phone in a car without a car kit over here). Now, when I receive a call, I have to press pause on the iPod. When I connect the mobile phone’s MP3 player to the car stereo with a cable it loses the bluetooth connection to the car kit.
It’s far from perfect, as you can see. It gets more complicated when you add a GPS system in the car to the multimedia mix. The trend is obvious: in a few years, any mobile phone will have more multimedia capabilities than a car stereo, and will also be able to do the GPS job.
Car manufacturers know that, and they want to sell their ridiculously overpriced stereo systems, so they blend the case into the dashboard and use displays in the dashboard to display the radio station and other information.
The loser is, again, the consumer. Every time you want to switch to a different radio or use other devices in the car you have to buy expensive adapters and cables, just to get a not-quite-perfect solution.
But what will you really need? Your mobile phone has an MP3 player, a radio, a GPS and a display.All you need is a connection to speakers and an amplifier. Why not come up with a protocol to use the mobile phone as an in-car display, instead of forcing the crappy radios down the customers throats? You’d also have a different system for every driver, and you could carry all your favourite settings with you.
Any takers? ;)