Last month I noted how Radio World columnist and HD Radio fan Thomas Ray encountered nothing but trouble when he tried to buy a new Ford with a factory-installed HD radio. Ray’s plight didn’t escape the notice of Bob Struble, the CEO of iBiquity, which owns the HD Radio technology. In a commentary published in the most recent issue of Radio World Struble pretty much begs for patience from Ray and other would-be Ford HD Radio buyers.
Struble explains the difficulty in finding a factory-installed Ford HD Radio as the result of
the growing pains which often occur when companies launch new technologies. Tom hit the lost as factory installed HD Radio receivers were just launching.
When I read that, all I could say to myself was, “really? New technology? Just launching?” The first HD stations went on the air in 2003 and the first car receivers went on sale in 2004. iBiquity’s own timeline claims for January 2008: “Ford to offer factory-installed HD Radio technology in Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury [cars].” So, it’s been six years since HD Radios were available in cars and 32 months since Ford announced factory installed HD receivers. For Pete’s sake, in January 2008 Apple’s original iPhone had been on sale for only six months and now we have the fourth edition of that device. In the tech world 32 months is an eternity. I guess that’s how cutting edge HD Radio is.
What does Bob Struble say the thwarted HD Radio buyer should have done? “[H]old out with his old Explorer for another couple of months” because then, “he would have been able to purchase an Escape with a factory installed HD Radio receiver as these vehicles hit dealerships the first week of August.” That’s like Steve Jobs saying, “just come back to the Apple store in a few weeks to get that iPhone. In the meantime hold on to that old flip phone that drops calls and is too old to text.”
Of course, people will line up outside Apple stores for the new iPhone debut, but that’s because Jobs also has a reputation for delivering highly desirably products…. on time. But, frankly, a radio is just an accessory to a much bigger item… the car. Folks might wait a few weeks to get the vehicle they want, I have a hard time seeing too many buyers waiting to get the right radio, HD or not.
If iBiquity wants to get HD receivers into the cars of more than five percent of buyers the company is going to have to offer something a lot better than excuses and pleas to wait a couple of months. Somehow, I just don’t see that happening.
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