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In-Car Streaming Radio: The New Trend Among Automakers

March 8, 2011

By Kerry Brewer
In-dash internet radio systems are all the rage these days. Almost every major car manufacturer now makes them available, as well as a host of third-party providers. Heres a  review of the latest dashboard systems and an overview of what you can expect.

Ford: The new AppLink Sync, with Bluetooth and smartphone connections, was just unveiled in 2010. Ford Motor Co., the first major car maker to deliver in-car Internet radio, now makes available a voice-controlled version of Pandora.

Toyota: Toyotas new in-car app is called EnTune and connects to Bluetooth and smartphones, and also offers support for Pandora and iheartradio. The system can be controlled via voice commands or by smartphone.

Mini Cooper: The Mini Connected is what this company is calling its streaming product, and its competitive with what the other car makers are offering. Bluetooth and smartphone connections seem to be de rigueur. The radio is controlled via center console display and steering wheel buttons, and it plays Pandora as well as RadioTime, which can pull in more than 65,000 stations from around the world.

Chrysler: Pandora is once again the zuppa del giorno here. Chryslers system has used a WiFi service called UConnect since 2009. There is a monthly fee, but it doesnt require a smartphone to grab the Web.

GM: The GM product is called MyLink and is part of the General Motors OnStar System. It also uses smartphone and Bluetooth connections, can stream Pandora and other providers, and will be available on all GM models for 2011.

Mercedes-Benz: The 2012 models will be equipped with Nokias Terminal Mode System, which will link with a smartphone to pull in Internet radio. Pandora announced last year that it will also be bundled into the new Benz app. It may surprise some to see that Mercedes is a follower instead of a leader on this one.

Volkswagen: So far, Volkswagen has not announced anything official, but its been working on a Web-connected system that was recently described as a hybrid radio. VW is supposed to start testing in 2011, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for the latest updates. Another premier German car maker a little late to the party?

There are also dozens of traditional third-party auto sound-system makers offering car stereos with Web radio capability; names like Sony, Blaupunkt, Pioneer, Alpine, Kenwood, and others are coming out with aftermarket systems.

Kerry Brewer is Sr. Managing Director at Securenet Systems. E-mail:


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