Internet radio's invasion of the automobile is continuing: Toyota will offer Clear Channel Radio's iHeartRadio mobile app as a factory-installed feature in some vehicles beginning next year. IHeartRadio offers users access to streaming audio from over 750 radio station Web sites and digital channels maintained by Clear Channel.
Clear Channel Radio president and CEO John Hogan said the integration deal will offer drivers "literally hundreds of radio stations and dozens of programming genres to choose from -- whether that is your hometown favorite, a station in the city you are driving in, or a category of music or information that engages you."
He added: "You'll be able to have your favorite entertainment, nationally or locally, with real-time traffic updates."
This move by the nation's largest broadcast radio group comes as pure-play digital audio services like Pandora are making inroads in the coveted automobile listening marketplace, which has historically monopolized valuable "drive time" audiences.
In October, Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren told the Los Angeles Times: "Our goal is to be in every new car that rolls off the manufacturing line," adding that the company is "working with Ford, Mercedes and other companies that we can't talk about now." Heralding direct integration with auto manufacturing for greater safety, Westergren said: "The future is in being able to control Pandora right from your steering wheel."
In January of this year, Pioneer announced that it has begun manufacturing a multipurpose navigation and media device priced at $1,200. It will allow consumers who own iPhones to stream Pandora content to their car stereos via the mobile devices -- after they download a new app that lets the devices link up.