May 23, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Study: Drivers Prefer Smartphones to Satellite or HD Radio

tim westergren pandora car

Pandora founder Tim Westergren prepares to demonstrate in-dash Pandora integration with a Mini Cooper (Photo: Eliot Van Buskirk).

The car is one of the best places to listen to music these days, in part because we’re so distracted when we listen in most other places (computers, portables, etc.). For many of us, the car is our strongest link to yesterday’s hi-fi culture, when people used to put on a record, sit back, and really focus on what they were hearing.

When it comes to car listening, according to a recent study commissioned by the Consumer Electronics Association and conducted by research firm MarketSource, more people want their car dashboards connected to smartphones that can run apps than to paid radio services like Sirius XM or mostly-free HD Radio stations.

Consumers are more interested in swapping out their existing car stereo for one that controls a connected iPod or iPhone than they are in buying satellite radio or HD Radio for their vehicle…

They’re also more interested in buying a car stereo head unit that connects to any cellular smartphone to stream internet radio stations and music services…

52 percent of respondents [!] said they listen to music from an iPod, iPhone or other MP3 player through their car stereo system, up from 36 percent in a year-ago survey. The survey did not ask whether they plug the mobile device’s headphone output into a head unit’s 3.5mm auxiliary input, used an FM adapter of one kind or another, or use an iPod/ iPhone-controlling head unit.

(Maybe Howard Stern should have done that podcast after all.)

Of course, the main drawback of listening to streaming radio or another app on a smartphone, for many people, is that today’s data plans often include hard limits on the amount of music you can stream within a given month.

In that sense, our in-car music experience could come to resemble that of listening to music on a Google Chromebook, where caching is king.

(via RAIN)