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Old 19th July 2011, 16:33   #1
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Default Integrated Head Units - Is this the death of the aftermarket for aftermarket HU's

I was talking to someone interested in developing entertainment + services systems for the automotive after market. He was a bit despondent as his research found that most cars are now coming in with integrated hheadunits and due to warranty issues, most people do not wish to go for visibile radical modifications.

It struck me that the Pioneers, Alpines of this world will have a limited segment and would need to focus on the automotive companies as their customers. the only other solution would be a strong market in integrated HU adaptor plates of a high quality

Does anyone else have a point of view?
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Old 19th July 2011, 16:53   #2
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Default Re: Integrated Head Units - Is this the death of the aftermarket for aftermarket HU's

The midway path could lie in some sort of arrangement between the audio aftermarket HU manufacturers and the car manufacturers. We may see the growth of a new type of audio shops/boutiques which showcase themselves as authorized service and installation points for XYZ brands. So an Alpine may have a tie-up with certain brands so that when you install an Alpine from one of their authorized installers your car's warrantee remains intact.
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Old 19th July 2011, 16:57   #3
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Default Re: Integrated Head Units - Is this the death of the aftermarket for aftermarket HU's

Good thought Ajmat. I have been pondering on this too for some time, but from a car buyers POV. Why is a HU tagged to the car when the buyer might not like the output? Especially, a buyer who needs decent safety equipment in the car has to compromise on the HU, take what's fitted in the factory and go through additional cost and time to get electronics tampered at the road-side vendor.

This is a way the car-company pockets as much as possible upfront for all the "bells", and "whistles" away to the bank!

If the ICE OEMs have to tie-up with the auto-makers they will definitely end up diluting their brand value somewhat (their labels would generally be absent from the dash).
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Old 19th July 2011, 17:23   #4
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Default Re: Integrated Head Units - Is this the death of the aftermarket for aftermarket HU's

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajmat View Post
It struck me that the Pioneers, Alpines of this world will have a limited segment and would need to focus on the automotive companies as their customers.
And it is already happening. We know for sure that Honda has tied up with Alpine and Clarion for Civic and Accord respectively. The Outlander comes with Rockford Fosgate ICE system as OEM. Ford used to use Nippon (I know, I know).

OEM look in India is a relatively new phenomenon. They look nice and clean due to the integrated display. Owners are tired of staring at an aftermarket HU which normally looks out of place in a modern dash. Case study - Optra and Fiesta (older models). Then there is this warranty issue. Finally aftermarket HUs are so 1980s.

However I believe, aftermarket (and better) systems will continue to have a market among enthusiasts. Just like they continue to have a strong presence in developed markets.

Last edited by dot : 19th July 2011 at 17:24.
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Old 19th July 2011, 18:28   #5
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Default Re: Integrated Head Units - Is this the death of the aftermarket for aftermarket HU's

Or you just go in for the base model of the car (no frills) and add in whatever you need to your liking.
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Old 19th July 2011, 19:08   #6
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Default Re: Integrated Head Units - Is this the death of the aftermarket for aftermarket HU's

Incomplete research, I must say! The correct picture will emerge only if one looks at ALL variants of ALL models and then examines the trend. This is also market dependent - emerging markets have a large complement of model variants without ICE obviously for reducing cost, whereas established markets prefer the elegance of integrated ICE. OE = Dash console, not just ICE. After-market = just the ICE system.

From another p-o-v, his views are rather dark and pessimistic - not a good environment for successful product development. If the set of features and the price is right, car manufacturers will buy direct. After all, OE has *always* been a bigger market than after-market (volume wise) - even if car manufacturers bought OE models from the Blau, Alpine, Kenwood etc., who also made aftermarket. Also, expecting to get the formula right the first time is a wrong expectancy - there are very few first-time-successful products. If anyone wants to get into Prod Dev, they have to reconcile themselves (and arm themselves with commensurate investment) for the long haul to success.

IMHO both will coexist, till the point that OE systems are able to deliver more features than aftermarket ones at a lower price-point AND most of the customers are aware of more features & quality than the OE gives. Today's integrated OE systems are limited-feature low-cost ones, and many customers prefer this since they haven't seen / heard anything better. If and when this trend changes, the OE's will have a big advantage. Right now, it doesn't look like it will change - OE will continue to be cheap-skate, and customers continue to prefer the bliss of not knowing better or caring.

After-market will always be around for those who know and care, who can go to extent of replacing OE for better features and quality. Making this attractive to such prospects depends on the fine art of getting the balance between features and price. Alpine, Pioneer, Kenwood et al will continue to exist. So will OE dash manufacturers like Bosch and the like. Requirements of high-end cars are anyway niche and low-volume - doesn't compare with the market we are probably talking of.

Last edited by DerAlte : 19th July 2011 at 19:10.
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Old 20th July 2011, 00:24   #7
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Default Re: Integrated Head Units - Is this the death of the aftermarket for aftermarket HU's

Many cars that come with Integrated head units have average audio quality. In the future, I see car manufacturers tying up with the Pioneers, Alpines etc to make cars with integrated head units made by these companies (pioneer, alpine etc). I think this process has already been started, atleast for Tata. The Manza comes with a Blaupunkt audio system. Now it is a different issue that the quality of that system is poor. Car Manufacturers will need to work with audio manufacturers to deliver the best quality integrated head units to consumers!
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Old 20th July 2011, 07:39   #8
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Default Re: Integrated Head Units - Is this the death of the aftermarket for aftermarket HU's

Issues with aftermarket stuff is that it is difficult to get a good match for the dash panel design combo so you generally end up compromising on the aesthetics. Also, the installation is usually painful with the guys removing panels, etc sometimes missing/replacing screws, generous usage of drill gun (hate this one), etc especially if you are an enthusiast and want non-standard sized speakers, dampeners, etc installed.
Also, going for a lower variant will mean you miss out on other important safety features like air bags, ABS, etc - we don't have a variant minus audio system option yet (de-link audio system from variants?) and I don't think the manufacturers will ever offer that !
And yes, will help if we have manufacturer certified/recommended products and installion services for branded after market stuff.

Last edited by NPV : 20th July 2011 at 07:41.
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Old 20th July 2011, 09:13   #9
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Default Re: Integrated Head Units - Is this the death of the aftermarket for aftermarket HU's

From a customer point of view, if I don't want to spoil the 'neat' look of the dash or risk screwing the electrical system by cutting wires, I would consider 'made for the specific car' type of systems like caska even if they are a bit on the expensive side provided they can tempt me with the quality of sound.
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Old 20th July 2011, 09:15   #10
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Default Re: Integrated Head Units - Is this the death of the aftermarket for aftermarket HU's

OEM HUs have come a long way from being no-name/cheap stuff to one of the better known branded stuff. Almost all OEM fitments today are of well known companies.Heck, the ETIOS VX comes with a DVD system with provision for an LCD screen, as OEM !

The audio quality (source) has also hit new heights. One could easily get 'good' audio quality now, by simply adding a nice amplifier+sub or by simply upgrading speakers on their OEM system. It rates highly on a cost to improvement ratio.

Moreover, with the advent of integrated Bluetooth,voice activated controls,satnav, steering mounted audio controls in mid segment cars, One really needs to think twice before going in for an aftermarket HU which might not be compatible with these provisions given as default by the manufacturer.

Personally, my next car buy will have OEM audio as a necessary condition, the same as what A/C, Power Steering & Power Windows have become now.

Last edited by JustCause : 20th July 2011 at 09:18.
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Old 20th July 2011, 10:03   #11
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I think that aftermarket HU manufacturers should start making car-specific HU's.If i had an OEM looking silver with black finish pioneer HU in my Ritz which is compaitable with the current setup of the car ( steering controls ) and also offers 3 rca pre outs and good output , i would not mind spending about 5k more for that.
As a customer i need OEM looks with good quality. I would also prefer 2-3 grades like one OEM looking mp3 cd player and another OEM looking dvd player. HU manufacturers should look into car specific HU's like the stratergy of " Caska ".
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Old 20th July 2011, 10:18   #12
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Default Re: Integrated Head Units - Is this the death of the aftermarket for aftermarket HU's

Quote:
Originally Posted by dot View Post
The Outlander comes with Rockford Fosgate ICE system as OEM. Ford used to use Nippon (I know, I know).
I know for sure that Maruti uses Nippon or Kenwood. I think Ford uses Sanyo in the Fiesta---at least my sxi has a Sanyo, from what I understand.
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Old 20th July 2011, 18:31   #13
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Default Re: Integrated Head Units - Is this the death of the aftermarket for aftermarket HU's

How many cars costing over 10 lakh rupees do you see with after-market head units? My guesstimate would be a mere <1% of Altis, Civic, Superb, Accord, Fortuner etc. owners bother with changing the head unit. Even the mid-variant of C+ segment cars (and above) are equipped with head-units from the factory. And they sound rather good in stock form!

It's definitely going to be challenging times for the after-market headunit industry. For one, the quality of OEM head-units continues to get better & better. Second, and soon, OEM head units will soon become the norm for mid-level variants of even sub-10 lakh rupee cars. Third, a manufacturer buying thousands of head-units a month will get the same HU at a fraction of the cost in the after-market. Thus, for those who want to increase their value offering to customers (inevitable in a competitive market), it's not that expensive an option to add at the factory level.

In addition to the continually-improving sound quality, some more reasons why car owners might not want to upgrade to an after-market HU:

- Headache of unskilled labour installing the system (cutting wires et al). Especially a worry in complicated modern cars as well as integrated ICE.

- Potential warranty issues.

- Higher chance of stereo theft.

- Incompatibility with steering-mounted audio controls.

OEM supplies might become more about sustainability, rather than just expanding market share. Take a look at this article.
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Old 20th July 2011, 18:43   #14
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Default Re: Integrated Head Units - Is this the death of the aftermarket for aftermarket HU's

Even the top end models of smaller cars are fitted with OE HU's
Majority of folks never bother to change them, as there are indeed too many hassles involved like those mentioned below.
Probably one day not too far away all cars in all variants will come with an integrated HU
So probably what the manufacturer would do is offer a better unit for the higher variant. For eg. Nippon for the base variant.
Alpine for the middle
and say Rockford Fosgate for the top end
above is just an example and maybe going a bit too far.
Another way they could do it is offer more features in the HU on higher variants.

Last edited by mdsaab : 20th July 2011 at 18:44.
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Old 20th July 2011, 19:04   #15
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Default Re: Integrated Head Units - Is this the death of the aftermarket for aftermarket HU's

Here's what I see happening:

- With car companies leveraging 'global models', HU OEMs will also start pushing better products/ models into the Indian market for the Integrated OEM look & feel..

- For Global car models, there will be after market options with integrated dash plates for the OEM look. We have Caska and Schose offering for some cars.

- As the car market matures, and differentiation becomes key, manufacturers will start offering factory installed audio options, which the customer can use to customize his car at a cost.. This is probably available only for the D segment cars now.


cheers!
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