It's no secret that cars have been growing to more closely resemble computers over the past decade. Now things have advanced to the point that over half - 58% - of all 2009 model year cars in the U.S. will feature some form media player or iPod interface.

The 50% figure may not be particularly astounding on its own, but taken in comparison to the 2008 model year, when 39% of cars had such equipment, it's an increase of roughly 125% year-on-year. Over 82% of all cars will be offered with Bluetooth connectivity, reports Automotive News, citing a study by iSuppli Corp. Pure USB connections are still relatively scarce, finding their way into only about one-third of all 2009 models in the U.S. These advanced features make it easier to stay connected to phones and media devices, which in turn keep us connected to family, friends, music and more.

And perhaps that is the real story: the surge in car buyers' desire to stay so interconnected, not only with each other, but with their devices. It reflects a change not only in car production, but in lifestyle, and how the automobile fits into that lifestyle. It appears that the car has a long future ahead of it as a technologically integrated centerpiece, likely to continue as long as personal transport plays a dominant role in the daily lives of so many people.

Another trend worth tracking amongst the statistics is the progression of such technology through the lineups of the various carmakers. In years past - not so distant years - Bluetooth and USB interfaces had been considered the reserve of the luxury and technology-heavy upper crust of the vehicular landscape. Now such features are finding their way into entry-level value models such as the Ford Focus. The Sync system from Ford, and Microsoft's underlying automotive computing platform, shared by a variety of other carmakers, are primary examples of this progression.