Friday, June 8, 2007

Audiophiles warn of demise of auto CD player

Scott Burgess / The Detroit NewsMike thesike

DETROIT -- The dash-mounted CD player could quickly go the way of 8-tracks and quadraphonic sound, a vice president from Siemens VDO said Thursday at the Ward's Interiors Show in Detroit.

And it will be a welcome demise, he said, because it will free up valuable real estate on the dash for all the other cool gizmos drivers lug around these days, like the cell phone, personal digital assistant and music player.

Never-ending advances in digital music devices, the take-them-everywhere cell phones and finicky customers who expect to customize their vehicles with portable devices, will push CD players out of most vehicles as early as 2012, said Frank Homann, vice president of Siemens VDO's Interior Electronics Solutions group.

Many manufacturers already are putting new sound technologies in vehicles.

DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group has offered its U Connect system to allow people with Bluetooth phones to connect to a speaker phone in the car for the past two years. It recently introduced the My Gig system that will burn CDs to a 20-gig hard drive in the dash.

Ford Motor Co. will introduce its Sync system later this year. It connects a driver's phone to the vehicle and allows an iPod or other music device to be controlled by the car's stereo. It will also play music saved on a flash drive by connecting to a USB port in the car.

Chris Dragon, director of marketing for audio company Harmon/Kardon, said he doesn't see carmakers opening their dashes to just any devices.

"(Carmakers) make a lot of money on those technology packages that include CD players and other things," Dragon said. "I don't see them opening up their electrical architecture to outside people anytime soon."

Many of the changes in future interiors will start in the more nimble aftermarket arena, Dragon said..

Harmon/Kardon sells a number of aftermarket devices that are popular with consumers, including the Guide and Play GPS 500 that can store music and movies, as well as GPS navigation.

Automakers could save between $20 and $40 a vehicle if they eliminated CD players, according to Holmann. They also could save money other ways, such as consolidating some of the electronics behind the dashboard, he noted. But all of this will take time.

Most new models now come with an auxiliary input jack to allow motorists to plug and play their music devices. Additionally, carmakers recognize the need to have more electrical sources in a vehicle so drivers can recharge their phones, iPods and laptops.

Even if CD players linger in dashboards of the future, many will simply gather dust.

"I bought a new car a few years ago and have never played a CD in it," Dragon said. "Everything I have is on my iPod and that goes wherever I do."

Posted by Mikethesike

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