WiFi Car Radios to Soar

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Cars with WiFi capability are still a rarity; only about 174,000 OEM WiFi systems for cars shipped around the world this year.

But that figure will soar like a rocket by 40 fold over the next seven years, says iSuppli, in one of the most important shifts in car electronics since the compact disc replaced the cassette (we believe).

By 2017, 7.2 million OEM WiFi products for cars will ship worldwide and about half that figure will ship in the U.S. Some of these will be WiFi car radios with a USB port for an AirCard, some will be radios that link to a smartphone, and some will offer both features (as does the MyFord Touch).

Aftermarket WiFi car radios and products are expected to reach 1.1 million shipments in the U.S. by 2017, says iSuppli.

Internet and smartphone connectivity is the new killer app to sell cars.

“Wi-Fi in the car is a hot topic these days, with major OEMs noticeably incorporating it into new-model releases,” said iSuppli’s Stacey Oh. “Whereas Wi-Fi was an aftermarket accessory in the past, OEMs now are touting it as a key offering.”

Wifi is already a standard feature of MyFord Touch (the new user interface that works with the 2nd Generation Sync radio platform). It’s available now on the 2011 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX. You plug in your own AirCard (either 3G or 4G) into the USB port and then the car radio broadcasts the signal out as WiFi so all passengers get an Internet connection. Or you can get a 3G or 4G connection from your phone via Bluetooth.

By the way, Ford also finally launches access to Pandora, Stitcher, and OpenBeak (a Twitter feed) in December on the Fiesta (with a software download called AppLink).

Source: iSuppli, Ford

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