Time To Hit "Eject" On The CD Player, You Geezers

By Blake Z. Rong | January 16, 2012
Perhaps it was inevitable. The CD player—and its flashy, status-seeking 1980s cousin, the trunk-mounted CD changer—are going the way of the dodo, or perhaps the column-mounted transmission. More carmakers are eschewing the trusty compact disc, because of the popularity of online music and smartphones. Physical media's on the way out, daddy-oh, and if you don't want to get left behind in Squaresville you gotta get hip to this Internet thing! Case in point: the Chevrolet Sonic (shown above being enticing to the kids), which debuted amidst a cloud of demographic-targeted buzzwords and "18-34" youth-driven social networking malarkey: it comes with an optional MyLink infotainment system, with access to Pandora Internet Radio, Bluetooth, and smartphone connectivity, but no chance to play your dad's copy of Bob Seger's Ultimate Hits. Not unless you buy it from iTunes, anyway. "We asked potential Sonic and Spark customers what they were looking for in infotainment," said Sara LeBlanc, program manager for MyLink. "They were very worried about cost. They said to us: 'Get rid of the CD player. We don't use it.'" Ford's SYNC already has a multitude of online streaming available through its voice-activated fingertips, ensuring that kids never have to keep their fingers on the edge of the disc. Despite their current availability on everything from the Nissan Versa to the Bentley Mulsanne, optical drives are expensive for the automakers to manufacture and at odds with the ever-declining sales of compact discs. Baby boomers will miss the CD, but they're also the ones who once missed Betamax. As one industry analyst put it rather bluntly, "consumers with the most disposable incomes, i.e. old consumers, are the ones that still use CDs." Like the 8-track, the CB radio, the glovebox-mounted record player, Burt Reynold's mustache, and the CD's forebear it once regarded with disdain, the cassette player, it too will inevitably go to the Spare Cardboard Box O' Parts In The Sky. It will be interesting to see which car will be the last holdout for physical media—the Lexus SC430 was the last car to feature a cassette player, and given the outdatedness of both, the next car will probably be something long past its prime; the Suzuki SX4, maybe? The next resurrection of Saab? Maybe in 10 years we can use our CDs as skeet shooting targets, and listen to Peter Frampton from our brain-chipped neural networks? Source: Automotive News
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