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Mobile Audio: What Consumers Want

Survey finds interest in equipment that controls an iPod or iPhone

Consumers are more interested in swapping out their car stereo for one that controls an iPod or iPhone than in buying satellite radio or HD Radio for their car.

That’s according to a MarketSource survey of consumers reported in RW sister publication TWICE, which covers consumer electronics. But the survey also found interest in HD Radio rising moderately.

Users also are interested in buying a car stereo head unit that connects to a cellular smartphone to stream Internet radio stations and music services.

These findings are from an online survey conducted for TWICE by research firm MarketSource. The company compiled responses from adults ages 18 and up in 501 households.

Among the findings, 51% of adults are very or somewhat interested in replacing their car stereo in the next year with one that connects directly to an iPod/iPhone’s multi-pin connector to charge the Apple devices, select the devices’ songs from the head unit, and view song information on the head unit’s display, TWICE reported.

Sixty-four percent said they would be very or somewhat interested in buying an adapter in the next year to add the same features to their existing car stereo head unit.

Meanwhile, more people are listening to an iPod, iPhone or other MP3 player through their car stereo system than last year, TWICE said.

Fifty-two percent of respondents said they listen to music from an iPod, iPhone or other MP3 players through their car stereo system, up from 36% a year ago. The survey did not ask whether they plug the mobile device’s headphone output into a head unit’s auxiliary input, used an FM adapter or used an iPod/ iPhone-controlling head unit.

TWICE reported additional findings:

HD Radio: Among those who don’t own an HD Radio, interest is rising, with 30% of non-owners saying they are very or somewhat interested in purchasing the technology for their car in the next year, up from last year’s 28%. For the survey, consumers were informed that HD Radio provides digital-quality music and additional stations not available through analog AM/FM car radios.

The percentage of respondents owning car HD Radio was not available.

Internet radio: Interest is high in listening to Internet radio and music services through car stereo systems; 57% of respondents said they would be very or somewhat interested in listening to Internet radio and music services through their car stereo system. A total of 47 percent of respondents would also be interested in replacing their car stereo system with one that would enable them to do so. The respondents weren’t asked whether they would be interested in a car stereo that would control the selection of Internet radio streams.

Satellite radio: Only 16 percent of people who don’t own satellite radio are very or somewhat interested in getting car satellite radio in the next year, down from last year’s 24 percent. Part of the drop, however, could be attributed to satellite-radio’s increased penetration rates in vehicles, TWICE reported.

Satellite-radio ownership in the car rose to 30% from 19% a year ago.

Among the 30% of polled consumers who have satellite radio in their car, 61% have an active subscription; the rest aren’t listening to satellite radio.

Among consumers with car satellite radio, MarketSource found that 70% said their satellite radio is part of the factory-installed sound system. Only 30% purchased satellite radio at retail.