Auto Electronics

ABI sees obstacles to wireless automotive connectivity

With “a bewildering array” of frequently incompatible infotainment technologies to choose from, the simple act of listening or watching can become a serious challenge, according to Mike Ippoliti at ABI Research, and with new technologies gathering steam in the market, he said, the challenge is likely to get worse in the next few years.

To ensure future growth, key players in the in-vehicle infotainment market “need to settle down and produce solutions that are both easy to use and compatible.” There are too many competing types of connectivity, in Ippoliti’s view, and most don’t “talk” to each other.

“Customers are used to the entertainment setups they have at home, and will frequently opt for the simplest solution,” he said. “That’s certainly the case with Bluetooth: many Bluetooth-equipped phones won’t connect to automotive systems, and many Bluetooth profiles may or may not work depending on a number of factors.”

Ippoliti said that although the Bluetooth SIG is taking steps to make the Bluetooth standard more consistent, incompatible Bluetooth implementations still hamper uptake. “They have a way to go before it becomes sufficiently easy for the consumer that the automotive OEMs will start accepting this kind of wireless connectivity in the car. Right now the OEMs are resisting, and consumers frequently prefer wired connections instead.”

A recent ABI Research study found that annual OEM shipments of Bluetooth kits will only double to just more than 9 million between now and the end of 2012, whereas OEM shipments of head units with (wired) USB ports will increase more than six-fold in the same period, to nearly 11 million.

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