MP3 On Wheels
Audio Compression Goes Mobile
By Brett Solomon
Specialty mobile electronics retailers often have customers that are technologically savvy in other areas. One of the best ways to service these early adopters is to offer them mobile source units that are as up-to-date as the audio equipment they have at home. Even though Napster is deader than last year's hit single, and other file "sharing" services are under increasing pressure from the entertainment industries, the MP3 compressed audio format is alive and well — very well. Moving MP3 into the mobile sphere not only makes sense, but cars may actually be the perfect venue for this technology.
MP3, which uses data compression to record digital music with small, manageable file sizes, is a very popular technology, and is especially well-adapted to the confines of a vehicle. Because of an automobile's inherently high noise floor, it is difficult for a listener to determine whether a track is an MP3 (or some other compressed media) or a CD while the car is in motion. Moreover, the convenience is hard to beat. Imagine a customer's reaction when he learns he can store 120 of his favorite songs on one CD, or he can get a special head unit that could absorb their entire music collection! By all accounts, the days fumbling through jewel cases while driving are nearly over.
Some specialty mobile retailers are very interested in creating effective displays that enable customers to see the benefits of audio compression technology. For example, John Francioso, president of UltraSounds in Lynbrook, New York, is thinking of re-doing his showroom. "But when I do," he says, "I would love to integrate a computer into the showroom. That way, customers could actually download music and create software, so when the installation is done, they will have a gift from the store and something to jam to on the ride home."