Anthony Herta · Erin Gray · Uncategorized

Podcasts Saving Grace — Cars

Although Podcasting has seen a recent surge, it’s a platform that’s been around for quite a while — in tech years that is.

In fact, it’s been around since the ‘dark ages’ of 2004. Unlike other forms of journalism, podcasting hasn’t had to deal with any pesky government regulations. Podcasters don’t need to buy a license to broadcast their own program and don’t have to conform to rules set out by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), according to HowStuffWorks.com.

But the problem is, people simply aren’t listening. According to New Republic, in 2015, a mere 33 percent of Americans said they listen to podcasts.

Listeners are growing, however — just not where podcasters want.

“The industry’s growth is coming largely from a small base of hardcore users, not from a surge of new listeners,” Stephen Lacey told New Republic.

One area where podcast traffic shows promise — cars.

In a study by Edison Research, 33 percent of smartphone owners listened to a web-based audio program in their car — a 21 percent boost versus 2013. They also found that 58 percent of regular podcast listeners broadcasted at least one podcast in their vehicles per week.

Unfortunately, only about 10 percent of automobiles in the U.S. are currently connected to the web. That means, you’ll have to rely on your smartphone’s data — something customers may want to conserve for other tasks.

One car company leading the way in vehicle connectivity is General Motors. As of late, all the GM brands — especially Chevrolet — mention most of its new vehicles come with OnStar’s 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot in many of their TV, radio and print ads.

Much like a 4G iPad, this hotspot could be accessed no matter where the car is going. In most GM vehicles with the hotspot, up to seven devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones etc.) can be connected at once — potentially preventing you from racking up data charges.

But — and this is a major but — OnStar isn’t giving free Wi-Fi out to every new GM customer. After your free six-month trial is up, drivers have the option of purchasing a hotspot plan starting at $15 per month (for one whole gigabyte).

Podcasting’s only hope — Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Once again, General Motors is attempting to stay with the times by putting this “projecting” technology in many of its new vehicles. This allows the driver to mirror their smartphone’s user interface on the touchscreen in the center console, versus GM’s bespoke UI.

“That is the best integration, the best experience for people, because we worked with Apple and Google on making [Apple CarPlay and Android Auto],” Phil Abram, GM’s chief infotainment officer, told The Verge. “They’re not doing our infotainment systems… We’re all saying, hey, how can we make the experience relevant, safe, and inviting for our collective customers?”

With more widespread integration of Apple CarPlay, podcasting apps like Apple’s Podcasts, Stitcher and TuneIn Radio will be far easier to access. Once this becomes mainstream, driver’s wont just avoid the manufactures’ infotainments systems, they will be more inclined to use the radio streaming apps on their phones versus the traditional AM/FM.

This is the key to podcast’s growth. Once Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are the norm for the auto industry, I presume podcast listeners will give this form of journalism a new hope for a prosperous future.

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