The number of global users of telematics smartphone applications will explode from 3.2 million in 2011 to 129 million in 2016, with North America as the dominant region, according to the latest ABI Research (New York) forecasts.
Practice director Dominique Bonte comments: “The integration of smartphones and smartphone applications into vehicles represents nothing less than a renaissance of the interest in both consumer and commercial telematics markets. Car OEMs, automotive Tier Ones, telematics service providers and independent system and software developers are rushing to launch smartphone applications, with new solutions being announced almost on a daily basis. The dynamics of the smartphone and application store revolution are now spilling over into the automotive industry.”
Telematics smartphone applications appear across many categories including infotainment (music streaming), remote control (door unlock), remote diagnostics (battery status), virtual dashboards, driver behavior monitoring, advanced navigation, and even social media applications (Facebook and Twitter updates). They take the form of both standalone apps connected to the vehicle OBD-II bus, and apps operating in conjunction with embedded telematics and infotainment systems.
However, issues remain. The most important one is safety: the in-car use of smartphone apps increases drivers’ distraction. While Apple’s iPod Out and Nokia’s Terminal Mode allow users to control and display phone apps using in-car controls and displays, the end-to-end control over HMI design is relinquished by car OEMs to third party developers. Some OEMs are considering launching their own application stores and/or certification processes.
Finally, telematics smartphone applications constitute something of a double-edged sword for car OEMs, allowing them to bring cheap connectivity and innovative features to the market quickly but at the same time forcing them to hand over lucrative business opportunities to the mobile industry, as well as compromising on quality and safety.
ABI Research’s new “Telematics Smartphone Applications” study covers the different types of telematics smartphone application (standalone, hybrid, embedded), drivers and barriers, main players and solutions, as well as user interface and safety issues. It includes detailed subscriber and revenue forecasts.