ARCHIVE: iRadio Telematics

November 16, 2005

Motorola History: Car Dashboards and the iRadio Telematics System

Despite public perception, Motorola iRadio was NOT first announced in January of 2005.

Motorola's deep, dark secret...iRadio was once the 'iRadio Telematics System'Following a trail of old press releases, you can trace iRadio's origins to a Motorola announcement made at CES 2000. At that time, iRadio was referred to as the iRadio Telematics System, an internet radio and telematics prototype delivering music, news, voicemail, weather, stock info, driving directions, ecommerce, etc. to cars via web access, satellite, digital cellular, and FM sideband technologies. (I found an old iRadio Telematics photo here)

The iRadio brand has since evolved. Motorola 1) transformed iRadio into a music-focused discovery and delivery solution, 2) made the mobile phone the central storage and delivery device within the solution, 3) added a time-shifted radio model similar to podcasting, and 4) incorporated "side loading" and Wi-Fi technologies to tie the mobile system together.

The Motorola teams involved have changed as well. iRadio was originally being developed by Motorola's Telematics Communications Group, led by general manager Marios Zenios. In 2000, Marios emphasized the role of iRadio telematics in automobiles, "Motorola's iRadio will bring a wireless Web connection to cars, transforming the driving experience. ... iRadio is designed to make Web content easy to access, manage and control." Now, Motorola iRadio is now owned by Motorola Media Solutions, with Dave Ulmer, Director of Marketing, and Paul Alfieri, acting as primary spokesmen.

Why did iRadio's feature set change? Not sure. Delayed adoption of advanced mobile netwoks in the United States probably posed the most serious technical barrier to delivering multimedia wirelessly. The growing popularity of PDAs, mp3 players, and iPods probablyalso influenced the decision to further leverage Motorola's growing success in the mobile device market. Perhaps satellite radio's growing popularity in car dashboards also suggested additional differentiation was necessary. Or the lack of a single solution that integrated music streaming, purchasing, transporting, and storage presented an opportunity to Motorola.

Whatever the reasons for the evolution, NPD Research seems to think Motorola is moving in the right direction.

If you'd like to follow Check out iRadio history in the making:

* Motorola Unveils iRadio At CES 2000; Wireless Web Access Coming Soon to a Car Near You (Jan 2000)
* Motorola Envisions Wireless 'Dashboard of the Future (March 2001)
* Motorola Offers Sneak Peak of New iRadioâ„¢ Solution at Demo@15 Conference (Feb 2005)
* Recent Dave Ulmer interview (Nov 2005)

What happened between 2001 and 2006? Perhaps someone from Motorola can fill us in?

iRadio Waves tracks news, buzz, and gear related to Motorola iRadio and the world of mobile radio. (iRW is not affiliated with Motorola)

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