You have known Pioneer as a leading brand in entertainment. It remains a household name in sound systems. Now it wants to be known for just one thing: car entertainment.

In a repositioning strategy that seeks to serve the growing car industry entertainment needs on the go, Pioneer is turning the car into an entertainment hub that even links to your mobile phone in its new car audio range of products.

Backed by the latest technologies in mobile and entertainment, Pioneer is out to re-write the rules of interaction between the driver, mobile phone and the head unit. “We have cutting-edge technology and features that make it easy for the drive to control the head unit to give him what he/she wants,” says Pioneer Senior Sales Manager, Anwar Hussein. “Some of our new units take voice commands, which enhances safe driving as you just talk and the head set implements the commands.”

Pioneer is the first company to bring in Apple Car Play intelligent receivers that take voice and other sophisticated commands. “You just need to talk to it to change functionalities like radio, CD, auxiliary or play a song,” he says. “The idea is not to use the phone while driving.”

The beauty of it is the fact that while connected to the phone, and playing music saved on the mobile or Youtube, you can still receive or make a call or even text on the head unit’s screen. For the moment, Apple CarPlay is available on iPhones.

For Android phones, there’s the Android Auto, which displays Apps on vehicle screen when connected with Android phones with OS 5.0 or higher, and can even show maps for direction while driving.

The most amazing of them is the Apple Radio Live which makes the smartphone the centre of operation. With a big enough screen of a mini-tablet it allows navigation, playing music, access to calendar and even receiving news briefs. “You can even make calls via Bluetooth and so the driver is in full control of the entertainment unit in the car.

Mr Hussein said Pioneer still holds its reputation in reliability and durability and now innovation is becoming a key plank of its strategy in all markets. Kenya, being one of the biggest economies in Africa, is higher on its priority list. “We are competing on features and not prices,” he said. “See for example, as you use your phone features on the head unit, it charges at the same time.”

The company is eyeing the nearly two million vehicles on Kenyan roads, including public service vehicles (matatus) which form a huge portion of the market. That’s why the new head units have been designed to meet local tastes and can fit in any car. Most cars in Kenya come from Japan with pre-installed entertainment units but car owners looking for quality and high tech entertainment often replace them.

The detachable units come with security features, including a PIN that’s required for installation. This key-lock feature means it cannot be installed in a different car without the PIN or dealer approval, thus reducing motivation for theft.

See also: Pioneer launches new car entertainment products


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