Friday, 29 July 2011

Ford to take away music choice in new models

Ford to take away music choice in new models

With the announcement that Ford has become the first mainstream car manufacturer to do away with CD Players in all of its future models, instantly I can’t help but think about the dollar signs appearing in Steve Jobs’ eyes as the older generation of Ford drivers realise they have to do away with their Rock n Roll, Blues, Jazz, Classical or (more modern music genre) CD collection and invest in an ipod (or other generic mp3 player).

Of course for many drivers, a USB connection is almost a must-have feature nowadays, but is Ford risking alienating those who haven’t embraced the newest form of portable music player just yet? Surely they ought to get the choice when spending £10,000 plus on a new car? Perhaps the next Ford sales promotion will include a free ipod for anyone who buys a new model (again more $ signs for Steve) and a crash course in how to use one.

Working in the digital realm myself, of course I think that developments in digital technology are exceptional and of course nowadays ‘young people’ are generally very switched on to the latest trends, but I’m also sure a fair number of traditional Ford drivers are in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond. And although many people in these age brackets are tech savvy and have an ipod, there will be plenty that won’t. What’s right for one Ford driver won’t be right for another. Everyone moves at their own pace and I can’t help but think that this approach is a little risky for such a mainstream manufacturer.

I do agree with Sheryl Connelly, global trends and futuring manager at Ford, when she says: “The in-car CD player – much like pay telephones – is destined to fade away in the face of exciting new technology." But just because CD sales are plummeting, doesn’t mean everyone is ready to throw away their huge collections of compact discs just yet. The prospect of a sync system which will allow wireless connection to the internet and in turn allows the car's occupants to connect to their music if it is held on a 'cloud', such as Apple iCloud, Spotify or Google Music is an exciting one, but for many people this will all sound like gibberish at the moment.

I’m all for advancements in technology and cool new gadgets, but in this day and age where, thanks to the internet and social media, consumers hold all the power, choice is the most important thing you can offer and not everyone is ready to lose their car CD player just yet. My view is that all car manufacturers incorporate DAB radio’s as standard in all future models before they scrap the CD player – that way they show they’re up to speed on digital technology, but also provide their customers with a far more varied choice of listening options when they’re on the road. Not only that but it would serve as a much needed boost to the world of digital radio. In fairness to Ford, they now offer DAB radios as standard on the new Focus, and as an option in the Mondeo, S Max and Galaxy models, which I applaud.


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