This year, Lincoln will become the first carmaker to offer iTunes tagging integrated into HD digital radios in its automobiles as a factory-installed option. This represents another advance for HD digital radio and the broadcast radio groups that back the new medium.
The 2011 Lincoln MKX will be the first vehicle to offer factory-installed HD radio with iTunes tagging, enabled via its touchscreen display. After tagging a song, the user can later sync the car's audio system with an iPod for future purchase from Apple's iTunes store.
Last year, Lincoln parent Ford began offering iTunes tagging-enabled HD radio sets in some models. In July, Ford unveiled a radio ad campaign highlighting the benefits of HD radio in the 2011 Edge, including iTunes tagging capability in HD radio receivers.
The radio spots are scheduled to run from July 13-Sept. 26 on more than 600 stations across the top 100 U.S. broadcast markets. But the 2011 Lincoln MKX is the first vehicle to make iTunes-tagging a standard factory-installed option.
While Ford and other carmakers have positioned the inclusion of HD technology as a boon to car buyers, partnerships with car companies are also key to HD radio manufacturers and broadcasters' strategy for boosting HD radio's consumer awareness and installed base.
Currently, 15 automotive brands offer HD radio technology in 86 different vehicle lines; 36 models include it as standard equipment. Some of the other auto brands that offer HD radio tech include Audi, BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Mercury, MINI USA, Rolls-Royce, Scion, Volkswagen and Volvo.
HD radio has some digital competition in the vehicle audio arena, of course, including satellite radio and Internet radio.
Earlier this year, Pioneer and Pandora struck a deal that will allow consumers to bring Pandora's personalized audio content to their automobiles. Pioneer is manufacturing a multipurpose navigation and media device priced at $1,200, which allows consumers who own iPhones to stream the online music service to their car stereos via the mobile devices -- after they download a new app that allows the devices to link up.