You've seen the opening to Annie Hall, right? Where Woody Allen tells the classic joke about two women grumbling about their dinner? The one complains that the food is terrible, while the other, agreeing, says the portions are too small. That's the automotive infotainment business in a nutshell.
JD Power spells this out in a new analysis of its 2012 APEAL survey. To put it simply, having some infotainment system is better than none, even if the technology occasionally makes you want to push your car into a deep lake.

Power says infotainment, which it calls "audio/entertainment/navigation (AEN) systems" and includes hands-free technology, had the highest average problem count in its 2012 Initial Quality Study. But those owners who had systems of this sort that included hands-free communication were some 12-percent more likely to recommend their vehicles to others. These owners were also "slightly more likely" to repurchase the same vehicle brand, according to Power.

Scroll down to watch the aforementioned clip from the 1978 Academy Award Winner for Best Picture.
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Hands-Free Device Owners More Satisfied Despite Problems

Date Published: 07/31/2012

New-vehicle owners and lessees who have hands-free communication devices in their vehicles are more delighted with their vehicle's audio/entertainment/navigation (AEN) systems than those who do not have hands-free communication devices in their vehicles, according to findings in our 2012 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.

This contrasts with results in our 2012 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS), in which the audio/entertainment/navigation (AEN) system category, which includes evaluation of hands-free communication devices, has the highest average problem count among all categories analyzed, and is linked to lower vehicle quality. In fact, the number of problems in this category has grown during the past few years, partly due to a higher number of problems reported for hands-free communication devices.

Yet, in our latest 2012 APEAL Study, we find that owners of vehicles with hands-free communication devices are 12 percentage points more likely than owners of vehicles that not equipped with hands-free devices to indicate they "definitely will" recommend their vehicle brand to a friend, relative or colleague. In addition, these hands-free communication device owners also are slightly more likely to say they "definitely will" repurchase or lease the same vehicle brand.

As penetration of hands-free communication devices and other in-vehicle interactive technologies increases, and as the quality improves, automakers and suppliers will have a major opportunity to raise satisfaction with their AEN systems as well as have a positive impact on vehicle owners' repeat purchase decisions and referrals.

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