Dealerscope: How has your overall mobile electronics business been over the past year—are you up, down, or about on par with the same period in 2005?
Mike Cofield: It’s good—up about five percent. Business has met our expectations.
Mehdi Narimanian: We’re up, thanks to bigger-ticket items. There’s lots of negative news out there on mobile electronics in general. But our navigation, video and satellite radio business has helped other categories.
Dan Jeancola: We’re up over the year before, but within the business itself, the industry is in transition. Between categories it’s shifting pretty dramatically. Core car sources in the industry are depressed, but we’re only depressed at half the level of the industry. That business is shifting into connectivity, GPS and satellite radio. What we’re experiencing is a shift in what the customer is looking for in a mobile electronics environment.
Mike Santacruz: The year 2005 itself was up and down, like the stock market. Big gas prices and lower car sales didn’t exactly help out too much. So far this year, foot-traffic is down, and the newspaper reports even larger gasoline increases are coming soon. I think we will all need to buckle down for a wild ride this year.
Dealerscope: Is video in the car as an impetus to installation sales past its peak?
Jeancola: It depends: What’s your definition of video? In-dash? Rear-set? In-dash navigation and video are growing at a pretty rapid clip. From the commodity-level standpoint, the price-points have come down, so there are new groups of people in the market. Also, your high-end satellite-enabled GPS navigation systems are high interest because early adopters who bought the original GPS systems want the newest and the coolest. It gives them a reason to come back in—they’ve gotta have the new toy. The flip-down rear-seat headrest business has pretty much flattened out.