Last time we checked, CDs were still selling in the hundreds of millions per year.
But automakers have multi-year product cycles to think about, which is why Ford is now officially ditching the in-dash CD player – just like the tape player before it. “In-car entertainment technology is moving digital more rapidly than almost any other element of the vehicle experience,” said Sheryl Connelly, global trends and futuring manager at Ford Motor Company. “The in-car CD player – much like pay telephones – is destined to fade away in the face of exciting new technology.”
The company pointed to its Focus as the first model that will go CD-free, part of an aggressive move towards integrated smartphone, USB and MP3-focused support. Ford has been pushing in-dash digital entertainment integrations through its SYNC system for some time, a shift that includes touchscreen support for apps like Pandora (and, scarily, Twitter as well).
Then again, not every model is going CD-free immediately, and some shufflers will be kept in the lineup – for now. “Ford will obviously continue to offer CD players while there is demand,” Ford multimedia manager Ralf Brosig told Expert Reviews. “However, over time we expect customer preferences will lead us quickly into an all-digital approach to in-car audio entertainment.”
This is all part of a tricky catch-22 for the disc. For millions, there’s nothing wrong with this format, though at some point, players like Ford need to cut the cord. That, coupled with the absence of physical music retailers and a blitz of digital options, simply feeds the downward spiral.