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We're Calling It: The In-Dash CD Player Dies in 2015

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MyLincoln Touch - 2011 Lincoln MKX

MyLincoln Touch - 2011 Lincoln MKX

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One of the innovation milestones of the computer age, and one of the most potent symbols of Generation X--the compact disc--is on the way out of cars.

In what's likely to be the first stage of a drawn-out phase-out, Ford will stop selling CD changers for its vehicles at the end of the 2011 model year, and it's suggesting the single-slot CD player will follow. It's a sign of rapid changes in the in-car entertainment world, changes that are particularly swift at Ford, which is jumping on the connected bandwagon with vehicles like the 2011 Lincoln MKX.

As the whole music industry shifts from "hard" digital delivery to "soft" delivery through networks like iTunes and Pandora and less legitimate outlets, automakers are faced with a choice--to adapt audio systems and to put portable players foremost in their product plans, or to deal with the legacy formats like CDs in other ways to hang on to more Luddite users.

In many ways, it's shaping up exactly as did the end of the car cassette player, which Ford dropped from most cars by 2005. A group of potential buyers don't want to abandon significant, expensive music libraries. On the other hand, playlists are the new mix tapes, and the world has clearly moved on from CDs, as it did with tape and vinyl.

There's incentive to move away from CDs quickly. As with cassettes, eliminating CD players from the standard-equipment list will save money and build complexity for automakers. But even more importantly, the move will free up space on the middle of the dash-- "Manhattan real estate," according to Ford's director of electronics engineering, Jim Buczkowski--in favor of more expressive styling and for other features, like larger LCD screens.


 
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Comments (16)
  1. That is good news for Downloadable music. With main stream CD players gone, and only MP3 as mainstream, free music and piracy will become mainstream.
    Of course there will always be makers of CDs and Cassettes and Players, though not in the mainstream. Blank tapes is one thing which will not die any sooner. The recent stereo products allow you to record MP3 directly to tape.
    To sum it free music will become more free.
     
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  2. I think you're calling it right - roughly 3 years ago I bought a Sony unit with a CD and a USB slot... I've only listened to one CD in all that time.
     
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  3. It's time to hang your CD(s) off the rear-view mirror :-)
     
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  4. An MP3 encoded CD is my backup to all of the other media that is available in my car. Over 150 songs is enough to last hours. When they start included a couple gigs of hard disk or memory, then I can see the end of CDs.
     
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  5. As long as the technology serves its user, it'll stay around.
     
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  6. As long as the technology serves its user, it'll stay around.
     
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  7. For safety's sake the last thing I want is to have some external media player sitting on the dash or the seat or somewhere where it can fly around in an accident or sudden stop.
     
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  8. I like buttons. To use an LCD display I have to take my eyes off the road to look at the display. With buttons and knobs I can feel for the correct control safely. Same goes for CD player vs MP3.
     
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  9. It isn't just music for which CD players are used. I listen books on CD. Yes they are available digitally, but I can't buy those on the cheaper after market. There are DRM issues that will keep that from growing. I know of many others that do long distance driving that listen to books.
     
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  10. I tilt to the opposite direction: I don't care for all that electronic crap. I'd much prefer a chance to opt out of the electronics in favor of a straight AF/FM radio. And no buttons on the steering wheel. A car is a transportation device, not a mobile home theater.
    Unfortunately, I've noticed the trend to bundling the nicer, more comfortable seating (10-way power adjustable, heated surfaces) with the upper-end electronic package. I wish the automakers would separate those.
     
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  11. No chance 2015 is the year of the MP3 player. Ford might come up with a bare bones unit for the Fiesta that's sold at econo pricing to kids who are very likely to have mp3 players and an archive to use, but it'll be the option not the standard package.
     
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  12. If Ford does does away with the CD player in their cars they are basically saying anyone over fifty is not one of their customers. I and my wife listen to books on CD on every trip we take as well as music and there are millions of book CDs already out there that will last for many years. Ask yourself this, do you like a rotating volume knob and a tuning knob or do you like a touch screen that does the same thing? On the touch screen you never get just the right volume or you over shoot it both ways and the station tuner will bypass many stations that you can get with a knob. Also you don't have to "Study" the panel to get what you want. It's like a digital watch and an anolog watch. Which one is faster to tell the time with and which requires the least amount of concetration? Sometimes the things that we use are the best solution for the times we live in.
     
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  13. I hope they develop some type of storage unit for the MP3 Player.
    I have yet to find a car that you can plug into that has a decent storage area for the player. It is a huge oversite.
    My Ford Edge was decent once I figured Synch out. But I wish this would be better addressed by the car makers.
     
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  14. My pet peeve with cars now is all the proprietary dash units, basically killing aftermarket radios over time. You mean to tell me that I will buy a car or truck -- whichs last longer than ever now reliability-wise -- and I'll be stuck with soon-to-be obsolete electronics that are only high end at the moment -- or get brutally screwed over for a hypothetical mfg upgrade?
    Worst thing for people who keep their vehicles for many years the loss of the DIN enclosure standard (single or double height.)
    The industry needs to standardize on a mech & electrical dimensions and interface for a box that contains the smarts, and a few levels of display/touchscrren tech.
     
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  15. You want stupid?
    How about Acura selling its 2005 TL with 5.1 surround "DVD Audio" while the world's sum total of DVD audio releases to this day is about 50-60? (Keep in mind, DVD Audio will not play normal DVDs, just $16-$60 DVD Audio discs.)
    This, while having no Aux input of any kind for iPods or MP3 players...even though Honda's kid-oriented Element had an Aux-In a year or two earlier?
     
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  16. Agree with newscaper (#14) completely. Acura's 2005 TL radio/cassette/multi-CD/DVD Audio player-without-iPod-support is so weirdly shaped and integrated into the dash that it's hopelessly impossible to fit a modern head unit into the dash.
    My '94 Ranger has a new Pioneer head unit that runs rings around the long-obsolete Acura unit. It's rather fun to think my old Ranger has roughly the same technology as my wife's Ford Edge with Sync. It's also sad to consider Acura so behind the curve.
     
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