By Amy Gilroy
More car electronics suppliers are jumping on the app bandwagon for remote starting your car as Directed Electronics’ Viper SmartStart app moves up the charts on the App Store. Audiovox and Firstech’s Compustar brand are planning remote start apps and other suppliers are looking into apps of other kinds.
The Viper SmartStart iPhone app hit the number 9 slot in Apple’s App Store for free Lifestyle apps earlier this week after Apple featured it in recent TV commercials. The ads also caused traffic on Directed’s dealer locator web site to jump 7 fold and required the company to add extra personnel to help out in stores selling the hardware required for the app, said Directed.
Although we see the SmartStart app has since dropped to the number 17 spot (as of Thursday), Directed Electronics president Kevin Duffy says the app is winning the company an audience beyond the typical 12-volt enthusiast. So Directed is planning more apps and it will soon have some company.
Audiovox is developing a remote start app for the iPhone or BlackBerry that will work with just about any remote starter—OEM or aftermarket. Your phone becomes the transmitter to start your car via touch screen or you can call an 800 number and use a voice prompted menu. The app should launch in 90 to 120 days in time for the colder weather. “We still think it’s a niche application, but it’s something the dealers can get excited about and it can raise the average selling price of some of the products they are selling,” said Audiovox Electronics president Tom Malone.
The app will require a $399 black box for the car. Service will be free for the first year and then the user pays $29 per year (as on SmartStart app). The app will be offered on additional smartphones in the future, said Audiovox.
CompuStar will offer its answer to the SmartStart in an app called the “Drone.” It offers remote start control from a smartphone and it goes a step further by adding GPS tracking, so you can locate your car on your phone. The app will launch the first week of June for the iPhone and will migrate to the BlackBerry and Android phones.
Although its not an app, the Auto Page C3 started the ball rolling on smartphone control over remote start back in 2008. The $499 C3 lets various phones control an alarm/remote start/GPS tracking/keyless entry system.
Others, including Guidepoint also offer app based tracking and other systems.
It’s pretty clear that most suppliers are considering or already offering an app of some kind. Dual says it is working on creating apps, and PIE said it just started to examine offering a “fit guide” app for retailers, showing them how to install its more than 1,000 accessory kits in various cars. Alpine is looking into making its radios work with other Internet radio apps on smartphones after launching the iDA-x305S head unit with Pandora control in March. Other suppliers already offer apps or app-capable radios.
Last year users downloaded about 2.4 billion apps from various app stores to smartphones and by 2013 app downloading will peak at a rate of nearly seven billion a year, said ABI Research.
Photo: The Drone remote starter/GPS tracking app is due from CompuStar by June
Remote Start Apps Due from Audiovox, CompuStar
By Amy Gilroy