Satellite radio and navigation systems are continuing to make inroads in the U.S. automobile market, according to J.D. Power and Associates, which tracks the penetration of various audio technologies as part of its comprehensive survey of market trends.
According to the company's 2010 U.S. Multimedia Quality and Satisfaction Study, based on a survey of 82,000 new-vehicle owners who purchased a 2010 model-year vehicle, the number of car owners who reported having satellite radio capability in their new vehicles increased from 59% in 2009 to 66% in 2010.
Plus, the penetration of satellite navigation systems increased from 25% to 30% of new vehicles over the same period.
However, J.D. Power and Associates also found that overall satisfaction with multimedia systems, including AM/FM radio, cassette players, single CD players, multiple CD changers, navigation systems, and satellite radio decreased slightly from 7.77 to 7.76, on a 10-point scale. That may be due to their increasing complexity, which makes them more prone to glitches.
The report included some findings that are potentially ominous for broadcast radio: Car-buyers' favorite audio system feature was the ability to play music file formats of their own choosing, like MP3 files or iTunes.
The increasing penetration of new technologies, including satellite radio, MP3 device compatibility and streaming Internet audio, threatens broadcast radio's traditional "drive time" dominance in vehicle media consumption.
Of course, audio systems of all stripes must also contend with continuing weakness in the U.S. auto market, where sales fell 21% from an annualized rate of 11.8 million in July to 10.6 million in August, reflecting broader economic uncertainty among wary U.S. consumers.