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Tell Me About HD Radio
Just prior to the opening of the 2013 Radio Show in Orlando, iBiquity announced that it had redesigned and relaunched the HDRadio.com website and released an HD Radio app. Redesigning a website? That happens all the time, but it was still worth a look. And I looked into the new app as well.
What I found was a fresher view of HD Radio. HDRadio.com was always full of consumer information about the technology, but now that information is shown in a sleeker format that brought visions of other tech sites to mind. I haven’t explored every corner of the site, but what I have seen should appeal to consumer interest quite well.
And the app? Everyone has an app, but it’s another positive stroke for HD Radio. Every effort to increase consumer awareness can only benefit the ongoing rollout.
Meanwhile, the news from iBiquity continues to roll in noting that more and more auto manufacturers are including HD Radio in the factory radio offerings. It had been a premium offering for many years, but we’re now seeing HD Radio becoming almost standard on factory radios.
Again, another positive stroke for HD Radio.
So at the same time all this news was released, I received a 16-page brochure from online electronics dealer Crutchfield. I opened the mailer to see what was inside. It was a targeted piece that touted some specific consumer technologies, including OLED TVs, TV soundbars, home theater speakers, and personal listening devices from ear buds to bookshelf speakers. But there were two sections that caught my eye because they featured car audio. One showed two in-dash navigation systems for radios. The other touted voice control for a car radio. I read these pieces in detail.
What did I find? Neither mentioned HD Radio. The voice control section touted the iPhone integration with the radio so Siri could launch Pandora.
This was only one mailer, so the lack of HD Radio isn’t a huge red flag, but it made me wonder how HD Radio was doing in the stores. It’s been several years since I visited an electronics store to see how HD Radio is being shown to the masses.
My first stop was in a local auto sound dealer. I started by simply asking the salesman what he knew about HD Radio. Yes, I primed the conversation from the start, but I didn’t want to spend hours trying to get him to tell me about it when I wasn’t there to actually buy anything. The local store person knew a great deal about it. He said his wife’s car has an HD Radio receiver. He told me about the local stations. This was all good news.
I asked him if other customers ask about HD Radio. He said that very few do. When I asked what feature customers ask for, he said that USB connectivity and access to Pandora were the prime features. I asked if satellite radio was requested, and he said not like it had been several years ago.
I repeated this exercise at a Best Buy. I received many of the same answers. Best Buy had a sheet on the wall noting which stations transmitted an HD Radio signal, which was refreshing.
I asked both stores if awareness of HD Radio was up or down from a year or two ago. They both replied that they felt it was about the same. But when their customers find a radio they like and then learn it has HD Radio, it’s like icing on the cake. So far, few if any consumers are asking for it.
So what does this mean for HD Radio? It seems the word is getting out, albeit slowly. One salesman thought that having HD Radio in the factory car radio is raising awareness. Word of mouth is helping promote the technology. But for all the positive efforts being made to advance HD Radio, it still struggles with consumer awareness and desire.
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