Harman was one of the first manufacturers of aftermarket car audio equipment (JBL) that saw the opportunity of integrating its products right into the vehicles at the factory, partnering with Ford. Along with Cadillac/Bose, these early systems were certainly not what the aftermarket could offer, but satisfied the needs for customers when ‘good enough’ fit the bill. If we fast forward, JBL will be offering an aftermarket head unit introduced at CES at an aggressive price point. It has all of the modern infotainment features of the products it sells to OEM automakers. Although this flip-flop on selling to the OEMs vs. the consumer shows how the industry has changed, more importantly, it shows how there is still opportunity for the aftermarket retailer.
Recently, I attended the New York Auto Show, and looked at the features Harman is integrating into OEM. Sometimes we forget how much time the Harman engineering juggernaut is putting into both OEM and aftermarket offerings in infotainment.
After the infamous Jeep Cherokee hack, Harman introduced a new 5+1 layered security network to make sure there is a firewall between the infotainment system and the vehicle electronics. But for most, it is still all about entertainment and connectivity. According to John Fitzgerald, senior vice president of car audio, “In today’s digital world, consumers increasingly consider their vehicles as hubs to enable their connected lifestyles. With improved connectivity and in-car audio innovation, Harman continues to push boundaries. . . for connected consumers.”