Archives For October 2012

The 2013 Chevrolet Spark.
Credit: Wikipedia.

Who needs CD players in cars anymore?!

Probably not the younger people likely to buy GM’s new Chevrolet Spark LT.

Connect your “source unit” — that is, your smartphone — to Chevy’s MyLink and control the system via a 7-inch touchscreen. Below the screen, there are only four buttons for power, home and volume up and down — and there are also just three knobs for the simple climate control system. There is no CD player (in fact, General Motors is apparently betting that you won’t even notice that it’s gone, because the Spark’s target audience already carries their tunes around on their smartphones).

When it’s powered down, the Spark’s dashboard is surprisingly simple. One CNET reviewer said, “Turn the key and you’ll find, as I did, that this is a case of less being more.”

Utilize Bluetooth for hands-free calling or to stream audio and of course you can use applicable phone apps. In addition, you can purchase BringGo for navigation. The future is now for in-car infotainment.

Read more about the Chevrolet Spark LT from CNET here.

California Legalizes Hands-Free Texting While Driving

Speaking of hands-free calling, this news didn’t make major headlines when it was announced a little while ago, but it represents significant legislation for consumers and automakers, as well as smartphone manufacturers.

California is following in the footsteps of Idaho and making it legal to text while driving, provided drivers use voice-operated technology for hands-free texting and email. Of course, this still doesn’t address the issue of distracted driving.

People don’t have to use their hands to text but studies have shown that distraction remains the problem.

Read more about the new bill from NBCNews.com here.

Everyone is still talking iPhone 5 but frankly we’re more excited about the new iPad Mini.

We can see car audio shops already getting ready to devise a way to integrate it into the dash. One analyst says that the Mini will have a superior design to the regular iPad with a still-healthy 7.85-inch screen — and even “feel better” in consumers’ hands.

It’s possible that the device will be available for sale sooner than we thought — think weeks, not months.

(Gasp … omg!!!!)

When the new iPad Mini product eventually launches, it could be a sales beast. On Oct. 7, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple has placed more than 10 million iPad Mini orders for Q4 of this year.

“Apple did not skimp on the aesthetics of the much-anticipated iPad Mini,” Brian White, an analyst at Topeka Capital Markets, recently said in a research note obtained by All Things Digital. “In fact, we believe the iPad Mini could outshine the new iPad in terms of how the device feels in a consumer’s hands.”

For full coverage on the hype around the iPad Mini roll-out, read more from CNET below:

iPad Mini Design to Top Apple’s Earlier Tablets, Analyst Says

Check out a leaked HD video of an iPad Mini below here:

According to research firm Gartner, 35 percent of the 1.9 billion phones sold this year will be smartphones.

About half of the consumers in the U.S. have one already. (You can read that report from Reuters here: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/29/us-smartphones-outlook-idUSBRE86S09B20120729.)

So it’s no wonder that the 12-volt industry is optimistic about the growth for the remote start via smartphone market. Our own VP of Product Planning James Turner joined other executives in the consensus view.

Discussing the growth of Viper SmartStart, Turner said: “We do believe it’s going to be the fastest-growing category we have.”

About 350,000 remote start kits are sold in the aftermarket each year and experts agree that smartphone remote start systems will reach a high of 10 percent of that market this year — at least! And given the rising sales of smartphones in general, that number should continue to climb in the near future.

So, get out of the way, skeptics!!!! And get on board with the cloud-connected car!

(And psssssssssst, by the way, why not get on board with Viper, who innovated and brought you the first-ever smartphone app that could start your car — and has delivered the most new features for customers ever since? Sounds pretty good to us!)

Any new Viper SmartStart features that you’d like to see, let us know in comments!

Read a full report on the growth of smartphone remote starters from CE Outlook below here:

Remote Start From Phones to Hit 10 Percent of Sales

The 2013 Ford Fusion.
Credit: Ford.com.

So … what are the Vegas odds on this deal?

The North American Car and Truck of the Year organization recently announced the finalists for its car and truck awards.

CNN Money goes through the list providing the odds of winning for each vehicle. Our bet is that a U.S. model will take the prize this year.

Although some sentimentalists may favor the new Accord — especially since it has never won this title. The MKZ is a stunner but a longshot at 25 to 1.

However, that’s still better than the Malibu — which apparently has “none.” Ouch!

The eventual winners will be rolled out at the Detroit auto show in January.

There has always been an international outlook (Range Rover, Volkswagen both won in 2012) — but the voting usually favors U.S. autos. (Detroit’s won 10 trophies and the Asian automakers just four.) The list of finalists is pretty diverse this year — five Japanese cars, one European and five U.S. autos rounding it out.

Funny enough, the longtime best-selling car in the U.S., the Toyota Camry, has NEVER won and was a finalist just one time. Whoops!

Read more about the car and truck awards from CNN Money below here:

The 11 Best New Cars in America

Some positive news for dealers: This may be a sign that the U.S. economy is turning around at last.

According to the Consumer Electronics Association, confidence for spending on technology is at the highest that it’s been in half a decade.

The business manager for mobile at Sony thinks this could carry over into the car audio segment as the demand for in-car smartphone connectivity continues to grow. MESA, the Mobile Electronics Specialists of America expects a much-improved 4th quarter. Their members have had a better year with nearly half showing a 10 percent increase in business.

Hallelujah!!!!

Just in time for the holiday buying season. (And it’s expected to get coooooooold up in the Northeast and the northern Midwest, in case you haven’t seen, it started snowing in Michigan already last Friday.)

Along with the uptick in consumer confidence for spending on technology, confidence IN technology also rose almost 5 points.

“This month’s measure of sentiment is at levels typically only seen during the height of the holiday buying season, an indication that consumers are likely to buy and spend more on tech in the weeks ahead,” said Shawn DuBravac, CEA’s Chief Economist and Senior Director of Research.  “There were several key high-tech product announcements this month which served as an important catalyst for tech buying heading into the fourth quarter and the holiday shopping season.”

Read full coverage on the consumer confidence explosion from CE Outlook below:

Even for Car Audio, High Consumer Confidence Could Mean Upbeat Christmas