Monday, August 31, 2015


Proof that multi-platform media choices continue to fragment user preferences arrived last week in the JD Power 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience Report.  In a survey of 4,200 folks who bought or leased new vehicles between April and June, many folks aren’t using some highly touted Connected Car (“CC”) systems. JD Power found that at least 20% never used 16 of the 33 technology features 90 days after acquiring the car.

There are two ways of looking at the implications of the report: 

Some folks will say the CC is not living up to the hype. Rising concerns about distracted drivers and uneven digital coverage dog the CC industries.

But other observers will say focusing on the non-adapters isn’t telling the real story. Many, many people who have recently acquired new vehicles are quickly adapting to all sorts of CC features.

Both opinions are correct but there is more going on. It is not either/or with the CC digital dashboard. The consumer can have whatever they want. Media platforms and delivery systems seldom ever go away. Their usage and market share just decrease over time.  The telegraph is still used as a form of mass communication but its market share has decreased.Same with smoke signals.

Add to the list of media platforms consumers who are CC Users and CC Avoiders. Not that long ago you could count the number of viable mass media delivery systems on one hand. Today the list is endless.  And, old-school media is still am important part of the mix because it is easy to operate, predictable and cheap.  Some people like them.


According to reporters and bloggers who have seen the full report [I couldn’t access it], a significant number of people are already happy with their entertainment and delivery systems. Here are a few of the main points in the report:

• 32% of the respondents have ignored apps embedded in the infotainment system such as Pandora.

• For Gen Y people (born (1977 to 1994), the number of never used features is 23 of 33particularly technologies related to entertainment.

• More than half of the respondents expressed reluctance about using a vehicle’s voice texting and voice recognition systems.

• Features that are “not wanted” by a majority of respondents include: Apple CarPlay, Google Android Auto and in-vehicle concierge services.

• A majority of the respondents said that their dealer did not explain the CC features in the vehicles they acquired. In some instances, the buyers didn’t even know they have the technology in their new vehicle.

The reasons respondents give for not using certain features are convenience, habit and not seeing a need. Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction research at J.D. Power said in a press release:

In many cases, owners simply prefer to use their smartphone or tablet because it meets their needs; they’re familiar with the device and it’s accurate.

Kolodge noted that the technologies owners most often want are those that enhance the driving experience and safety.

Bob Pittman, iHeartMedia chairman & CEO [a person whose opinion I greatly respect], says the findings corroborate earlier research from Ipsos, showing 91% of consumers say they prefer to use current AM/FM radio systems.
While digital apps may get more attention from news
media, we focus on listening to the consumer — and
nothing surpasses AM/FM radio as the No. 1 way consumers want to experience entertainment in the car, Pittman said in an interview with trade publication Inside Radio.

Auto industry publications are abuzz about the JD Power conclusion that manufacturers are loosing millions of dollars to provide unused technologies by making them them part of standard vehicle price. The report claims car makers are spending billions of dollars on technologies that many drivers simply don't use.

Not only are people opting out of the features in their current cars, but a fifth said they'd rather not having them the next vehicles they purchase.

The auto industry expects to sell about 14 million vehicles to consumers this year. The report concludes consumers would like to dump technology they don’t want to cut the vehicle’s cost. So why not make many CC features optional for a price instead of standard?

The JD Power research also found that auto insurance providers are concerned that if the technology is difficult to use or not explained clearly, it can cause driver distraction that can lead to accidents. They are considering raising rates on CC vehicles.

Roger Lanctot from the auto industry research firm Global Automotive Practice at Strategy Analytics summarized the situation this way:
Carmakers are throwing a lot of pasta at the wall and some of it is sticking and some of is not. [Survey respondents] are saying [make] the user experience simpler.

The metric to watch is how many manufacturers drop entertainment-oriented systems as part of the vehicle’s purchase price.

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