We all remember a while back when Volkswagen teamed up with Apple right? They offered the New Beetle with an iPod, and an actual iPod dock built into the dash. This move, combined with the popularity of Apple’s digital music player, has lead many other auto makers to follow suite, as you can now buy cars from companies like BMW with built in iPod interfaces.
In a move that surprises me, Volkswagen has turned away from an interface that is exclusively iPod compatible and has adopted a new USB port in their vehicles. Stored in the center console, this USB port will mount any USB-based storage device, search the drive for MP3 files, and then let the driver navigate and play the music through the car’s sound system. This means that any thumbdrive or thumbdrive-based MP3 player will work in the car. I think this is an EXCELLENT move on Volkswagen’s part. This greatly reduces the investment required for a driver to make use of digital music in the car. Instead of having to put down $300 or more to get an iPod that will work in the car, the customer can find a great deal on a 1GIG thumbdrive (which I’m sure can be had for about $40 now), load it up with music, and leave it in the car until they want to swap the tunes out for something else.
I also see this as another step for USB based storage devices to completely replace CDROMs as a storage media.