Have digital downloads killed the CD player?

Bye, bye tape deck, so long CD player, digital is IN!

After a 30-year run, the compact disk (CD) wiped out cassette tape and phonograph record sales. However, the CD’s day may already be fading away… Ford announced that it will no longer offer the CD player in its European Focus models in the coming year.

With the all-new 2012 Ford Focus in Europe, Ford has scrapped once-popular multi-disc CD changers, while a USB port is standard equipment and most models offer standard Bluetooth connectivity – both of which cater to the increasing popularity of iPods and other digital music players.

In fact, since the new European Focus went on sale in March, 95 per cent of Focus customers have opted for a model with both a USB port and an auxiliary jack for MP3 players to allow independent device integration, and 90 per cent of new Focus models on Europe’s roads offer Bluetooth.

“In-car entertainment technology is moving more rapidly than almost any other element of the vehicle experience,” said Sheryl Connelly, global trends and futuring manager, Ford Motor Company.  “The in-car CD player – much like pay telephones – is destined to fade away in the face of exciting new technology.”

The number of CD albums sold in the UK fell 35 per cent between 2006 and 2010, while the number of digital album sales increased more than seven-fold. In US markets the sale of digital downloads through services like Apple’s iTunes is growing at a very fast pace.

The 7-inch 45 rpm record, commonly known as a single, first appeared on the US market in 1949. Rock, R&B and Pop music grew quickly with the sales of 45 rpms in the ‘50s, ‘50s, and ‘70s. Eight track  cartridge tapes were popular from the late ‘60s but the cassette tape took over in popularity by the ‘70s. So the 45 rpm single had a 30-year run. The CD was introduced to the market in the early ‘80s and soon outpaced sales of all tapes and albums. However, digital downloads – stored on phones, MP3 players and other digital media – are now controlling the music market. So it seems, the CD will also have about a 30-year run of popularity.

As music-lovers relocate their CD catalogs to digital storage and move to digital download purchasing of music, Ford plans a targeted move towards “all-digital” in-car entertainment.

Music purchasing revolution accelerates CD’s demise
Across Europe and US, Ford currently offers USB and Bluetooth audio connectivity, as well as auxiliary inputs for MP3 devices, to supplement the existing CD player. But as CD usage becomes less prevalent, these digital devices will become the norm.

US consumers have heard about the cutback of CD players in Europe and are worried about how soon Ford will change its offerings in the domestic market. Ford has taken several leaps forward with the arrival of the advanced SYNC with MyFord Touch system in Europe and the US earlier this year.

The MyFord Touch system caters directly to the demands of Ford’s tech-savvy customers, offering a sophisticated multimedia infotainment hub providing connectivity options including multiple USB inputs, SD card ports, RCA inputs and Bluetooth connectivity.

The system also will act as a password-protected wireless hotspot for up to five devices, providing connectivity through USB or mobile phone broadband modems. This capability will potentially allow access to “cloud computing” services such as the recently unveiled Apple iCloud, Amazon Cloud Drive and Google Music, eliminating the need to carry music storage devices in the vehicle. Ford expects two million SYNC equipped vehicles to be on the road in Europe by 2015. Ford already has almost four million SYNC equipped vehicles already in the US.

For more information, refer to www.bobhurleyford.com

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2 thoughts on “Have digital downloads killed the CD player?

  1. While I may have a total of 10 or 12 albums on my MP3 player, I own and still listen to over 2,500 CDs. As much as I like Ford products and have exclusively driven Fords for 30 years, this is another move that could force me to look elsewhere. I say “another” because the radio in the current 2012 Focus is so user surly (another way of saying not at all user friendly), that I would never consider buying one. Imagine having to push four different buttons to get the radio to scan stations, all this while driving 70mph!

    • This move to stop CD players is for next year’s European Ford Focuses. There has been no decision to change things in the US. Familiarity of the Focus’s center console buttons may take some time but SYNC and voice commands can help with that. I am watching for more news of development of the “Cloud.” Microsoft and other manufacturers are pushing to have all stored media (music and video) accessible through the “Cloud.” Maybe that’s the real “dark cloud” on the horizon of music accessibility.

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