Bluetooth will enjoy sustained growth in the automotive market over the next few years, primarily in the form of hands-free kits and speakerphones, according to a new study by ABI Research, but analyst Dan Benjamin questions how long the technology’s growth will be sustainable.
The report describes how Bluetooth opens doors for automakers to use telephony in a cost-effective fashion, using the driver's own wireless account, but the report concludes that Bluetooth in the automotive market “is a complex and continually emerging picture.”
Benjamin notes that some Bluetooth boosters have promoted the technology for in-vehicle entertainment, in the form of Bluetooth headphones for use with rear-seat screens. “But in terms of sales in the automotive environment, those would become available several years from now, if ever."
The expansion of Bluetooth beyond hands-free telephony depends on how "media in the vehicle" develops over the medium-term, according to Benjamin. “Will it be streamed in? Stored in a big media library? In the latter case, perhaps Bluetooth headsets might make sense, but it would still be a niche market.”
In terms of telematics, Benjamin says that beyond Microsoft’s partnership with Fiat to develop a telematics system, “not many companies have jumped on that bandwagon. Yes, a couple of similar partnerships have been announced for Europe; but the trend there is to adopt much simpler systems. Telematics has not proved very popular in Europe, and cost reduction is paramount.”