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As the tablet industry continually becomes more and more commercialized, there has been a demand for retrofitting a tablet with already installed mounts. In particular, there has been a growing interest in having a holder that can mount to a VESA mounting pattern. For those who aren't familiar with what a VESA mounting pattern is, it's a standardized way of mounting monitors produced by the manufacturer NEC in 1988. Produced by Padholdr, iPad and tablet holders with VESA mounting patterns are now available for shipping.

VESA mounting patterns are seen across the world, primarily on the back of television sets. The primary patterns seen on most smaller TV sets is a 75mm by 75mm or a 100mm by 100mm. When designing the holder, Padholdr went with the two most popular VESA sizes.

Padholdr is hoping to see its holders used in schools, hospitals, cash registers and many other commercial industries. Currently, you can't buy a tablet with a VESA mounting pattern, and the only other holders on the market only work with the iPad and without a case. Padholdr is launching its VESA tablet mounts in the FIt and iFIt series. The Fit series consists of three universal tablet holders fitting a broad range of tablet sizes and allows you to use a case on your tablet if needed. The Fit series works with most tablets on the market including iPad, Galaxy Tab, Transformer, Iconia, Surface and many more. The iFit series holders are specifically designed for the Apple iPad only. There are three holders in the iFit series that cover all of the currently available iPads. 

What's next?

"We are introducing our new line of Tablet mounts for the big boy tablets including the Dell XPS 18," says Padholdr President Jim Benham. "We already have customers waiting for a way to mount their XL sized tablet to a VESA mount."

For more information, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Auto Action Group, premier service provider to dealerships in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, announced it has launched a new wheel repair division within its Tri-State service area. The additional capabilities provided by the division empower local dealerships to profit from a highly valued service offering.

“We use the term, ‘Wheel repair made easy,’” said Jared Cohen, president of Auto Action. “As with every offering of our business, our goal is to help dealerships improve their profits. Wheel repair is a lucrative, growing service category for dealerships because it plays into a car owner’s love for his or her car. Great-looking wheels make the right impression, so owners are motivated to keep them looking great.”

Auto Action uses state-of-the-art equipment to remove dents and scrapes from wheel edges and surfaces, as well as return bent wheels to manufacturer’s specifications. In addition, the company made a significant investment to add repair and restoration of machine-finished wheels to its offerings, a service not available from mobile wheel repair businesses because of the equipment required.

Wheel repair is the latest in a series of cosmetic enhancement services that Auto Action has debuted in the past few months, including vinyl roof wrapping and vehicle-specific trim accessory packages. Also recently introduced is the ability to paint rims any color to match a customized vehicle’s paint or décor.

Auto Action has paired the new service with a comprehensive program to get dealerships up and running quickly. In it, dealerships call the company when there is a wheel to be repaired. An Auto Action representative picks up the wheel free of charge. It is repaired and returned to the dealership within one business day if the order is placed before 1 p.m.  As part of the program, Auto Action is inviting dealerships to evaluate the service with a “1 Wheel for Free” campaign.


The Mobile Electronics Retailers Association (MERA), representing more than 1,000 specialist locations nationwide, announced it has acquired In Car Experts (ICE), a Swedesboro, N.J.-based firm that specializes in providing marketing infrastructure and strategic product acquisition services to well-established retail businesses in the in-vehicle technology sector. The acquisition will serve to broaden MERA’s capabilities in providing resources to its members, and to strengthen MERA’s brand within the mobile electronics community.

“The decision to acquire ICE started with a partnership that we announced during CES,” said Chris Cook, president of MERA. “As we discussed the elements of the partnership, we began to see how the benefits our organizations supplied to retailers were complementary. ICE represents the upper echelon of retailers that have demonstrated success on several levels. MERA supplies the proverbial ladder that helps retailers grow to that level of success. At that point, the conversation changed and evolved into the announcement we’re making today.”

As part of the acquisition, ICE will maintain its current operation under the guidance of Jason Denton and Cory Mayo, both of whom have managed the day-to-day operations of the firm for the past few years. Founder and current Executive Director Robert Elliott’s experience and counsel will take on a broader focus with his new position on the MERA Board of Directors. 

“We anticipate that nothing will change for current ICE members and vendor partners during this ownership transition, and for the foreseeable future,” added Cook. “Jason and Cory are accomplished professionals who have met the needs of the membership and are partners in every respect. Our position will be to support them in every way with MERA’s applicable resources, and to help to introduce new products and programs that fit the group.”

One immediate benefit to ICE members is that they automatically become members of MERA as a condition of the acquisition, gaining access to the organization’s sales and marketing support programs, as well as a vastly expanded peer network. In addition, MERA plans to develop a program that coaches its members to meet the requirements of ICE membership.

“We have already identified a number of MERA member businesses we feel are ideal candidates to become part of ICE,” said Cook. “The goal is not to lower the requirements for ICE membership, but rather to build a path by which retailers can raise their performance to a level that makes them eligible.”

ICE was started by former mobile electronics retailer Elliott in 2006. The firm used images of wolves in its initial marketing campaigns to represent the “pack mentality” it felt retailers needed to take to maintain and grow market share and viability in an ever more competitive consumer space. ICE quickly grew, with a selection of retail business that had achieved a certain level of sales success but still needed the benefits offered within an environment of like-minded professionals.

Despite its achievements, ICE made the deliberate decision to maintain a low-key presence in the industry, choosing to focus its efforts internally for the benefit of its membership. The firm currently offers a full suite of programs to develop competitive pricing and marketing advantages for its members.

“ICE was started to provide retailers with proven, enhanced marketing and vendor programs that are only available to retailers when functioning as part of a larger group,” said Elliott. “Over the past eight years, our members have benefitted from better product pricing, marketing support and a close-knit network of successful entrepreneurs sharing best practices. MERA’s acquisition ensures that these benefits will not only continue, but will be expanded and enriched with more resources and new leadership.”

About the Mobile Electronics Retailers Association:

The Mobile Electronics Retailers Association (MERA) strives to grow the mobile electronics industry by supporting its professionals with education, networking opportunities and legislative support. Members include retailers, manufacturers, distributors, manufacturer’s representatives and others who realize professionalism and continuing education are cornerstones for successful business. In addition to numerous member benefits, MERA publishes Mobile Electronics magazine, the premier industry trade resource, and produces KnowledgeFest, the industry’s only trade show and education conference dedicated to mobile electronics professionals. For more information, visit www.merausa.org or call (800) WHY-MERA. 

23 Dec

Editorial Correction

Monday, 23 December 2013

 

In the January 2014 issue of Mobile Electronics, we erroneously ran a photo of the late Steve Hock with an editorial description of another industry professional. We sincerely apologize for the error and will re-run the article correctly in the upcoming issue.

 

At last month’s LA Auto Show, many automakers were eager to show off their newest features in the coming year’s models. Among the most talked about features were those related to the connected car. To learn more, we sat down with two of the top automakers regarding next year’s models and what each has in store for the future of the connected car.

Company Name: BMW

Representatives: David J. Buchko of Advanced Powertrain and Heritage Communications, and Eric Sargent, Product Manager for ConnectedDrive

From a technology standpoint, what is BMW doing for the consumer experience in the car? This includes the audio, infotainment and telematics aspects.

It all comes back to the phones in the car. BMW ConnectedDrive, which is our umbrella term for the technologies we have in the car that keep the driver connected. There are several areas: Driver-assistance systems, integrated services in the car and phone integration. When the customer brings the phone into the car they get access to BMW online, which gives them stock prices, fuel prices, real-time traffic information and access to BMW apps that allow them to connect the phone to the car. We work with third-party app makers to help them (with) making their apps work with our car. From the consumer side of it we’re not asking them to do anything differently; we’re letting them use what they usually use for the phone but just bringing it into the car. The customer has the same app on the phone but can now put the phone down and control that app through the iDrive controller.

Is there a touch screen element to the UI (User Interface)?

There is no touch screen in our cars; it’s just the iDrive chip. There is a heads-up display but it is positioned a little bit higher than a traditional touch screen would be.  The driver uses the iDrive knob to select different options within the ConnectedDrive. It’s almost the mouse to screen approach. That way you can have one hand on the wheel and one on the console.

How will this technology hold up five years from now?

The BMW app platform has been around for about two-and-a-half years. With the emergence of new apps, the customer does not have do anything new to the car. The hardware will remain the same. We built an SDK (Software Development Kit) platform and work with our app partners to keep the apps updated.

How does the phone connect to the car?

There are two ways to connect your phone to the car: the regular way of connecting the phone through a USB port, and there is a spot in the center console to place the phone that does wireless charging, connected the phone via the satellite antenna and there is a fan that cools the phone while it charges. All the apps we currently have align with only the iPhone, but in July we announced that we now have Android compatibility. We’re working with Android app developers to integrate that technology for our customers. There is a USB port that works for charging any device.

Regarding hardware versus software upgrades, if a customer purchases a navigation package and finds there are critical updates needed, do they have to purchase new hardware? Or is that currently an available feature as a software upgrade?

Right now, that’s hardware because you do have to have the GPS antenna in the car. There are also aftermarket devices that could be installed in the car. We are moving towards the way of software over the need for hardware, but I’m not sure when we’ll be able to 100 percent separate the need for hardware from software. There is a lot of potential for phone integrations because phones get updated quickly and automotive hardware by consumer electronics standards operates at a glacial pace. Our model cycles are typically seven years with a mid-life cycle of three years. By that time the consumer will be on their third or fourth phone.

Regarding safety, how does the consumer remain safe with all the apps in the vehicle?

The way it’s designed by our teams, they made sure that it’s safe for a driver by utilizing lean integration. For example, on the cloud player it’s very much lead implementation. There are a couple of things you can do. There is a menu bar where you can say “What’s playing next?” and skip to another song. You can search for music on the cloud or search for music on your device; then there’s skip forward and skip back, which is really all you need to do when you drive. These features are the same when the car is stopped. Some would argue that we’ve come at app development somewhat slowly. That’s because we’re very careful about evaluating each app. We don’t advocate an open platform of throwing an app in there when it’s first created. There are certain things that could create a distraction for the driver that we want to avoid. 

What are your key safety features?

We have adapted cruise control and have something we announced earlier this year. The vast majority of our cars have advanced automatic collision notification with the BMW Assist function. There are two options: one is an SOS button that notifies our emergency call center; the other is in the event of an accident it will automatically call someone in our call center and send over all relevant data like where the accident occurred, how many people were in the car, were their seatbelts fastened? It sends over something called an urgency algorithm that helps the call center know what’s the likelihood of injury and they use that information to send over when they call the emergency response units that go to the scene. This technology came about when a man named Dr. Jeffrey Augenstein from, a pioneer in trauma surgery based out of Miami, was bothered with the idea that people would come in to the hospital and appeared to be perfectly fine but would later die due to some unforeseen trauma. He came to us with the idea that we could take the data from the crash sensors and use that to predict the likelihood that somebody might suffer a severe injury and transmit that likelihood to the emergency crews. That was something we worked really hard on with the folks in Miami. Ten years of service with BMW Assist is now standard as part of the BMW brand experience. It’s just a little SOS button but a lot of people don’t know what’s behind it. It’s a big thing.

Company Name: Chrysler

Representatives: Aamir Ahmed, UConnect Marketing and Advertising

What is Chrysler doing for the in-car customer experience?

The aftermarket had a leg up on us for a while because they were the first to incorporate large touch screens into vehicles. Step one was to have a connected radio to keep the cars fresh. The key thing was, when we launch new applications today, whether it be a Ram truck today versus a Ram truck a year ago, we wanted to make sure our customers are able to get the same experience. That goes for not just a new owner but if a customer goes to auto trader to buy a used car and finds that they don’t have navigation, they can have it added after-the-fact. If they have one of the 8.4s we can add navigation to it with dealer. We’re designing an eco-system where we can keep updating these cars. We’re building better and better cars that people are holding on to for a long time.

Where do you see personal electronics integrating into vehicles?

If you look at smartphone buyers, half of them say they plan on using their phone by hand if it’s not integrated into the car. Our objective as a responsible carmaker is to make sure that that phone is as integrated into the car as possible so they’re not at the device. People look at the screen size and ask why it’s that size. We didn’t do that arbitrarily. We could do a larger screen if we want to. Our objective is to provide as many carrots to drivers as possible like voice messaging, Internet radio. What we’re trying to do is get the phones out of people’s hands. We’re trying to improve the driving experience in a sense that you’re confident behind the wheel of your car because you’re not distracted by a peripheral device, but also because you understand how your system works. You can use the touch-screen or knobs to interact.

That’s what we’ve done with Uconnect. We’ve tried to develop a system that’s very feature-laden, but at the same time we’re not developing a checklist of features with cross-modalities, we’re trying to make sure that we have what the customer is looking for with an easy to use and easy to learn experience. We’re designing an in-vehicle experience that doesn’t work without a holistic interior design approach. That’s why when you look at the Durango’s and Grand Cherokee’s they aren’t just one experience, they all blend in to form this interior design approach. We also take common in-car features and make them our own; things like adaptive cruise control, lane guidance and lane system, those aren’t necessarily our features but we make sure they’re integrated in a relevant way to the vehicle. For instance, if the brake is on and a call comes through while you’re driving, it’ll be muted until you take the brake off so your focus is on the road. If someone says we’re late to the party with something, we’re not. We’re bringing the best one to the party. If you’re the life of the party, that’s what matters. That’s what we’re best at, bringing stuff that works and brings the customer experience to a new level. The most important thing is that it actually helps your drive.

How important is the audio quality for your customer?

Huge. That’s why for certain partners we allow them to change the bit rate they bring in. If you can change the bit rate so you’re not using as much data, go for it. Also, we’re improving our sound system. I think we’ve got a great stable of premium audio suppliers (JL Audio, Harman, Alpine). People always joke, why do we have so many brands? Last year CNET awarded us best audio system for the Charger. We’re not asking you to spend $8,000 on an audio system. Audio absolutely matters to us. Across the board it’s something we’re going to improve. It’s filling our niches for our customers that some others in the marketplace might not be doing but we’re doing in a different manner. Entertainment is a sensory experience. It’s about making something that’s highly technical seem less technical to a consumer. I don’t care how a car is built; I just want it to work how I want it to work. We’re trying to build great cars, where some of the other people out there are just trying to build brands. We’d rather sell great cars.

In Car Experts, Inc. announces a strategic partnership with Hybrid Audio Technologies to become the ICE recommended High-End Speaker Brand of Choice.

Following Boston Acoustics' departure from the car electronics industry, In Car Experts (ICE) conducted an 18-month evaluation of every brand that claims to have a stake in the high-end speaker category. This evaluation included some of the worlds' most renowned brands from Europe. Ultimately, USA-designed Hybrid Audio Technologies products stood alone as the ICE recommended High-End Speaker Brand of Choice. The ICE/Hybrid program is described as extensive and is designed to provide ICE members with access to a wide assortment of the best-sounding speakers and subwoofers on the planet.

“Sometimes a product comes along that reminds you why you got into the 12-volt industry...Hybrid is that product," said ICE Executive Director Rob Elliott. “Near-perfect sound is only part of the story. Their state of the art programs, such as their ‘guaranteed value buy back’, where a consumer can upgrade their Hybrid speakers at any time and receive at least 60% credit on trade-in towards higher priced models, is what sets Hybrid apart from other companies in the same category."

 

 

M.E.S.A., the Mobile Electronics Specialists of America, have announced the launch of four live action TV commercials that are available now for free use by all M.E.S.A. Member retailers.  

M.E.S.A.’s in-house staff created the concept, script, and overall vision for these advertisements, auditioned actors and were a part of the production team as well.

“We know that consumers need to be informed or re-informed about what our retailers can do not only for their vehicles, but for their daily lives as well,” said Erin Costello, M.E.S.A. Marketing Manager. “It was the goal of these TV spots to educate the consumer about what products are available to them in the aftermarket and how those products can go to work for them in a real way.”

Each commercial in the series is category specific and each emphasizes how a product can actually be experienced by an everyday consumer rather than focusing completely on the product itself. The categories covered in the first four ads are: Smartphone Integration, Back-up Camera, Rear Seat Video, and In-Dash Navigation. Each ad features the tagline, “You don’t need a new car for new car technology” and is designed so that Members can customize them with their own logo and featured product. Two more ads are slated for production this Winter in the Remote Start and Window Tint categories which will feature the same actors and style as the rest of the series.

“These TV Commercials have already been extremely well received by our Members and Vendor Partners alike,” said Ryan Gunter, Executive Director of M.E.S.A.  “We are extremely proud that our small team was able to deliver such a quality tool to our Members at no additional cost to them. We look forward to getting to work on the next part of the series!”

 

29 Jul

Editorial Correction

Monday, 29 July 2013

In the May/June issue of Mobile Electronics Magazine, a story was run in the Peer to Peer section that featured an anonymous store and the comments from various retailers providing guidance. The photos that were used in the story are purely representative and do no directly relate to the retailer who submitted the question or problem. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.  

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