The aftermarket is already seeing its first WiFi based radios from a leading supplier in Kenwood’s DNN990HD and 770HD, and more aftermarket wireless devices are on the drawing boards.
Audiovox told analysts recently it plans to develop media hubs for the car that will receive streamed content over WiFi and distribute it throughout the vehicle.
Wireless devices in new cars will grow by 41 percent from 2012 to 2018 in terms of dollar revenue, said a study published last week by IHS.
But the road to consumer demand for wireless in the car may be a bit bumpier than some expect.
Parrot’s Peter George says, while everyone wants wireless in the car, they are not sure how they want it served up to them. Parrot began shipping in February a double DIN Android radio with built in WiFi and the ability to accept a 3G or 4G air card (see the Asteroid Smart). It set up a system where users can download apps directly to the radio (when the car is parked).
Parrot is seeing “a slower uptake than we expected,” said George. “Consumers are still trying to work out what they want to do in the car environment. Although they are savvy about smartphones, they are not savvy about what they want to do with them in the car.” The company is seeing consistent month to month gains in sales but it’s found there’s a need for consumer education. “We believe it will take time for people to understand Internet connectivity in the car. People are excited about it but not sure about it.”
Parrot currently offers about 30 apps in its Asteroid Market app store, and will increase that to 100 apps by Christmas. Many of the apps download in seconds to the car over WiFi, it said. They include navigation, music, driver assistance, verbal text and social media.
Despite the hurdles, wireless is expected to continue to move forward. “In the automotive market, wireless connectivity demand is racing ahead of older wired technologies,” said IHS analyst Luca DeAmbroggi, adding, the old USB wired connection is “being challenged.”