Ford’s Latest: HD Radios, iTunes Tagging

HD radios with built-in iTunes tagging right from the factory

Ford has been confirmed as the first car maker to offer factory-installed HD radios equipped with iTunes tagging as a standard across a wide range of car models. The products are slated for introduction at the US trade show CES in January 2010. According to various sources covering the topic, the move will see Ford customers capturing the songs they hear on the HD Radio receiver for later purchase. With a push of the "tag" button, the song information will be stored in the radio's memory.

HD Radio receivers decode and play digital radio signals with a dramatically improved sound. FM stations have near-CD quality, making it more relevant for customers to select songs they want to download and purchase. When listening to a compatible HD radio or car stereo system, iTunes Tagging allows listeners to press "tag," and save the name of that song as a favorite. When an iPod is connected, that song’s title and metadata are saved.

When the user syncs their iPod to a Mac or PC, a new Tagged playlist appears in the iTunes jukebox — complete with links to the iTunes Store. Listeners can then preview tagged songs for free, and buy them from iTunes. Up to 100 tags can be stored until the iPod is connected.

"iTunes Tagging and HD Radio technology are strong new additions to the growing collection of Ford convenience features and technology we're offering customers to make driving even more enjoyable," Mark Fields, president of The Americas, said.

When the iPod is then synced to iTunes, a playlist of "tagged" songs will appear. Customers can then preview and, if desired, purchase and download tagged songs from the iTunes Store. For radio stations, iTunes Tagging increases the revenue and delivers a stronger connection with the listeners. Radio stations receive a commission on every purchased song tagged from their broadcast, "while listeners get an incentive to keep the dial fixed on your programming," according to Apple.

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