San Antonio — The Progressive Retailers Organization was at the Westin La Cantera Hill Coun
TWICE: What technologies do you expect to appear for the first time in 2013, or what technologies do you expect to proliferate in 2013?
Anderson: People will continue to want to use their smartphone’s content wherever they go, so a better in-car experience, whether it is iPhone or Android, will be key. Once MirrorLink is introduced on more U.S. phones, the desire among consumers to fully enjoy that capability will grow quickly.
Lehmann: 2013 will mark the year that the full potential of Internet access and enhanced user interface will be realized in the aftermarket. What will make this significant is how much better the experience will be when compared to today’s factory infotainment systems, which have been fraught with compromises, half-measures and mediocre audio performance. We will also see more OEM integration and radio replacement solutions that retain most, if not all, of the peripheral factory features customers want to keep.
Rougas: Smartphone connectivity and advanced display solutions such as Pioneer’s Augmented Reality Head-up Display, demonstrated at CES in 2012, will continue to grow in popularity.
Gharapetian: MirrorLink head units are just beginning to appear in 2012, and we do believe they will gain in popularity in 2013. We also believe that there will be more capable head units that are designed specifically to offer streamlined easy connectivity to smartphones and tablets as both those markets are growing rapidly and offer remarkable entertainment options on the go. We also believe voice recognition needs to absolutely be a part of any successful solution as well as solutions that offer gesture recognition.
TWICE: Will there be greater stress in 2013 on head units that connect via USB to Android smartphones and control the phones’ music selection?
Anderson: Direct connection is difficult since Android is supported on so many different phones from different hardware manufacturers.
Lehmann: The ability of an in-dash electronics model to control onboard content on Android smartphones is already becoming ubiquitous in our industry. In 2013, the demand for additional Internet-related connectivity through a mobile device will intensify as consumers become more comfortable with Cloud-based content delivery and real-time information related to social media, data services or app-based features.
Gharapetian: We strongly believe that Android connectivity will become more common in the near future given the significant growth and popularity of Android-based mobile phones and the more friendly and open architecture of that OS. Also, with Internet radio streaming becoming more common and supported by more devices, we expect consumers to embrace streaming apps, which will give them the preferred option of listening to their preferred genre of music when and where they want to.
Rougas: We expect to see greater demand for all smartphone connectivity regardless of platform. The ever-increasing number of smartphones — including Apple’s iPhone, Android and the recently introduced Windows-based phones — will turn more consumers into smartphone users. These consumers will naturally gravitate to utilizing these personal devices for music playback in addition to streamed media and advanced app solutions.
TWICE: What will be the impact on dedicated aftermarket navigation systems of head units that control iPhone nav apps? How does a supplier differentiate between the two?
Anderson: This will be an interesting trend to monitor. For cost and convenience reasons, there will be a significant population who will simply use the navigation app from their phone. However, we believe there are also consumers who want a more robust navigation experience, and we need to serve their needs as well.
Lehmann: We have probably seen the peak of the dedicated aftermarket in-dash navigation system market. What will keep the category relevant are enhanced onboard features that cannot be replicated by a navigation app, such as driver safety, audio performance, display technology, etc. Suppliers need to offer smartphone app integration that will bring navigation into a multimedia model and provide a good user experience, and they should also offer a high-quality, dedicated in-dash navigation solution for a higher-end customer to meet their expectations. Differentiating between the two should be easy if features, performance and overall value are carefully specified so they do not conflict.
Braun: Fixed navigation head-unit sales were down in 2012 vs. 2011. However, there is still significant demand for in-dash navigation, and we expect this category to be a key segment of the A/V market. In fact, we expect it to grow with the increasing capability to integrate mobile navigation apps into the head units.
Gharapetian: We believe that there will be a notable move towards differentiation through Human Machine Interface and through the ability to personalize your system by using the nav apps you are most accustomed to and whether the apps are limited or offer more options/flexibility via a Cloud network service. Clarion has been working on both for awhile, and we have the know-how and access to an extensive Cloud-based infrastructure (through our parent Hitachi). We believe that our product offering in this segment will help define the market’s direction and set the standards for others to follow.