Auto Electronics

Firm says automakers ignore instant Bluetooth opportunity

A new study from Strategy Analytics claims that automakers are ignoring the immediate opportunity for in-vehicle hands free cell phone use with Bluetooth technology and focusing instead on post-2009 wireless applications. The study, "Wireless Technology Trends and Implications for the Automotive Market," indicates “strong reluctance by too many automotive players” to meet the hands-free opportunity, according to Joanne Blight, director, Automotive Multimedia & Communications Practice.

“The Bluetooth competitor gap is set to keep on widening unless other players start following the market lead set by Daimler Chrysler, BMW, Ford and PSA, in addition to automotive Bluetooth suppliers, Parrot, Nokia and Motorola,” she said.

The dynamic automotive Bluetooth market is set to almost triple in 2005, and double again in 2006, according to Blight. “Very clear market leadership is being established early. Although over 20 OEM brands offer Bluetooth, for the majority of OEMs this tends to be only on selected models. Viable opportunities for DSRC, WiFi, UWB and ZigBee, will not start to emerge until at least 2008-2009; and each technology will require costly evaluations into standards, technical issues and business case development.”

Blight advised OEMs to react quickly to consumer demand and start rolling out Bluetooth across model ranges and geographic regions. “Although Bluetooth will be unchallenged as the wireless technology to deliver in-vehicle hands free voice communications, automotive companies are in danger of examining market opportunities driven by technology instead of consumer interest," she said.

"There is too much automotive focus on long-term wireless technologies that have yet to emerge into the market and currently have no clear commercially viable applications. Bluetooth does face strong competition in the in-vehicle audio entertainment market, and yet there is far too little focus on the role of Bluetooth in relation to iPod, compressed audio format CD players, satellite radio and other, USB-enabled portable devices,” Blight said.

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