The car as media space–and the end of commercial radio?

It wasn’t too long ago that, while driving, you could only occupy yourself with the following activities:

  • Listening to commercial or public radio
  • Listening to an 8-track tape/cassette tape/CD
  • Thinking with no distractions
  • Talking to a passenger
  • Talking to yourself

Today, things are much different. You can still do all of the above, but now you also can:

  • Listen to satellite radio
  • Listen to your MP3 player
  • Talk on your phone
  • Text on your phone/Surf the web (and risk your life)
  • Navigate via GPS

Photo by In Telematics Today

And that’s just the beginning. OnStar recently announced that its ninth-generation hardware will allow drivers to post statuses to Facebook and compose SMS messages “responsibly”–via voice, that is. And earlier this year, Fast Company called Ford “America’s most surprising consumer-electronics company,” with “technology [that] will turn its cars into rolling, talking, socially networked, cloud-connected supermachines.”

These are huge upgrades over the current driving experience–upgrades that will increase turn our cars into a media space not unlike our homes and offices. And it also begs the question, does commercial radio  stand any chance of remaining relevant in this environment?

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