Everybody knows that the trick to getting Internet radio past the early adopter crowd and into the ears of Ma and Pa Kettle means getting into it into cars. Commercial broadcasting seems ready for that to happen. How do we know? The National Association of Broadcasters sent us a profile of Autonet Mobile.
Autonet calls itself the “first wireless internet service provider designed for your car.” It creates a Wi-Fi “hot spot” that pretty much turns your auto into an Internet cafe via a 3g wireless connection. The company says it runs over the “nation’s largest 3g network,” but doesn’t say which one that is . . . presumably Verizon?
Anyway, the car is the Holy Grail, Internet radio wise. The courageous are hooking up iPhones to their FM receivers . But everybody knows that the true mass audience for streaming radio doesn’t come until Mr. and Mrs. Luddite can do it real easy.
Autonet has still has a big problem. It’s expensive. Almost 500 USD a copy and 29 a month for a 1GB plan. 59 for 5GB. And if it runs like 5GB Verizon does on my Blackberry, it may be kinda slow. I have to wait quite a while before the next tune on my Pandora app fires up.
The other sticky wicket the company faces is that it has partnered with Chrysler, which has been sloughling off auto-dealers almost as fast as California is dumping school teachers. But their search engine indicates that plenty of dealers are selling this thing—a whole boatload of them in Los Angeles, for example. And it looks like the outfit has some Toyota dealers as well.
So we’ll see where this goes. In the short run one can expect the pioneer crowd to drive off bridges while surfing the Web on the freeway. In the long run, as prices come down and the economy comes back up, maybe this is one more step towards bringing streaming audio to drive time.
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