Ford Brings Together iTunes and Drive Time
Ford has announced that it will include iTunes tagging technology in some new car models starting next year. This will allow users to press a button to indicate interest in a song playing from their HD radio receiver, then download that song from iTunes.
This technology already exists and is sold in some aftermarket HD radio receivers, but this is the first move to bundle it into new cars. It’s also the latest advancement of Ford’s Sync in-car media system, which has been developed in partnership with Microsoft and has already made some interesting moves.
Generally, this concept of making radio content more actionable (download song, etc.), is an argument behind the ongoing radio industry lobbying for broadcast chips in cellphones (see our conversation with Emmis Interactive head Jeff Smulyan).
The idea is that tying a traditional one-way broadcast signal to the two-way communication of a smartphone lets you start to purchase content, or inquire further about programming or advertising of interest. Downloading songs could just be the beginning.
This could not only boost radio user bases and engagement levels, but entice advertisers with new ways to interact with potential customers, beyond the initial impressions that have traditionally ruled the ad medium.
And of course there could be affiliate revenues from iTunes and other sources of music, though terms are unclear at this point. This will be something to watch closely in 2010.
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I think Ford is doing a phenomenal job at staying ahead of their competitors. They are continually trying to entice younger and more high tech customers. Their new car designs, accessories, options and quality control standards show a consistent track record towards this corner of the market.