Mobile Electronics Shift Gears
Lehmann: We’ve added more high-demand features and cut back on areas that have not contributed much in sales and revenue. We added multimedia/navigation products and more electronics enabled with Bluetooth and HD Radio. The popularity of USB as a portable digital media tool helped. USB is a format-agnostic platform that can support iPod, mass storage hard drives, flash drives and Zune—any products people want to connect things to. People who had owned a portable navigation device are moving to products with bigger screens, connectivity, more points of interest and better route guidance.
More manufacturers are realizing the importance of OEM integration. Companies that have typically been known for only amplifiers and speakers are now stepping into the integration arena, knowing that this is what the future of the 12-volt industry will rely on.
Witt: There has been a significant shift in consumer media consumption behavior. Customers want more connectivity solutions in the car, driven by unprecedented consumption of ‘portable everything.’ So Alpine has shifted our engineering to provide a platform for the best possible iPod, USB device and satellite radio experience in the car. We also hear clearly from dealers the message to make products simpler and easier to use.
We’re also seeing a significant rise in interest in Internet radio in the car, which leads to the expansion of the connectivity concept. We believe it will be smartphones with robust data plans that will be in the first wave of products using Internet radio. Another factor is the consumer shift to all-in-one A/V-navigation head units. There are consumers who want portable navigation and those who want installed product that delivers a seamless, all-in-one experience, and consumers who want real-time data on traffic, weather, movie listings; things that enable what they’re doing in their everyday life.
We are also experiencing a significant increase in our sound system business. We help dealers build on their long-term heritage of installation capabilities with these categories, the one area where OEM still falls short in meeting enthusiasts’ demands.