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iSuppli: Smartphone Impact Seen On In-Vehicle Systems

Segundeo, Calif. – Smartphones could influence the direction of
vehicle-infotainment systems as much as they have affected the MP3 player,
in-vehicle telephony and portable navigation device (PND) markets, iSuppli

potential influence of smartphone on infotainment systems comes from the
phones’ multitouch user interface and App Stores that sell third-party
applications. “Together, these trends are enabling the smart phone to exert an
increasing impact on multiple industries, including automotive infotainment,”
iSuppli said in a recent research report.

and other types of cellphones have already led automakers to incorporate Bluetooth
hands-free technology into their infotainment systems. Bluetooth is available
as optional or standard equipment in 93 percent of model year 2010 vehicles in
the U.S. and 75 percent of
models in Western Europe, iSuppli said. Almost
100 percent of smartphones sold have Bluetooth features, and more than 80
percent of all mobile phones sold worldwide come with Bluetooth.

have also become a leading source of digital music played through vehicle head
units, mostly via USB interfaces, stereo Bluetooth, and iPod or auxiliary interfaces,
iSuppli said.

impact on PNDs has also been strong, iSuppli said. The company cited the introduction
one year ago of free navigation functions on the Android operating system, which
in turn forced down the price of PNDs and caused PNDs to peak in importance. Worldwide
PND sales are declining or projected to decline in most regions of the world in
the years to come, iSuppli said.  As a
result, “PND manufacturers are moving into the in-vehicle navigation segment
with low-cost PND-based systems, which in turn is putting price pressure on the
suppliers of traditional in-vehicle navigation systems,” iSuppli said.

the future, auto infotainment systems might adopt smartphone operating systems,
primarily the Android OS but also the Genivi consortium’s MeeGo platform for
Nokia high-end smart phones, iSuppli said. A growing number of smartphone apps,
the company also noted, are already focused on vehicle applications such as remote
control of door locks, windows, air conditioning and remote starting.

coming smartphone influence on infotainment systems is Terminal Mode, a head unit-to-smartphone
interface “that will render the smart phone display on the head-unit display,”
iSuppli explained.

A “long-term
possibility” also exists for smartphones to become the “computing and
communication platform portion” of head units, which would provide the
Human-Machine Interface (HMI) for in-vehicle entertainment as well as interfaces
to other vehicle systems. In this scenario, motorists would be able to use
their preferred smartphone as their content source, lowering the price of an infotainment
system price while making it possible to upgrade functionality when a better
smartphone comes along. This scenario, however, might be adopted only for entry-level
vehicles to keep new-car prices low, iSuppli noted.