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2022 WorldDAB Automotive Conference


The Threat from ‘Big Tech’

By RU Digital Radio Columnist Kevin Ryan 

I was a 'remote attendee' at the 2022 WorldDAB Automotive Conference, held on the 23rd of June 2022. This is the third time I’ve taken part, and the themes are now familiar although I detected a drop in confidence that a radio tuner will be included in every new car worldwide. A DAB+ tuner is required by law in the EU and the UK in all new cars but even then the concern is how prominent it will be on the dashboard. Even that step will leave FM and AM in danger of being excluded. One presentation included an ‘ideal’ screenshot of a future car dashboard (see image).

The threat is coming from ‘Big Tech’ in the shape of Apple CarPlay and Android Automotive who probably have little concept of a radio tuner. They want to deliver audio over the internet probably using the Radioplayer app. Amazon Prime is also in the mix. Amazon has agreed on a deal with BMW to fit out its luxury range with a 31-inch 8K TV with built-in Amazon Fire TV service.

It’s no wonder that WorldDAB produced a new set of guidelines about driver distraction. WorldDAB sent a white paper to Google promoting the cause of having a radio tuner highly visible on the dashboard.

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Some broadcasters are pushing for radio stations to have easy one-touch access on the dashboard screen now called the infotainment screen. Big Tech may insist that broadcasters provide their own in-car apps that will be added to a crowded screen of other apps.

Several listener surveys conclude that radio is still in demand in the cars of the future but how it might be included is far from settled. It struck me that few of the presenters considered that many places barely have a mobile phone signal – nowhere near the data capacity needed by the ‘connected’ car.

(Source: Kevin Ryan | [email protected])