Infotainment systems to be norm in next generation cars

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

London, United Kingdom (4E) – When British automaker Vauxhall officially unveils its all-new 4th generation Corsa supermini at the 2014 Paris Motor Show in October, the compact car’s instrument panel and dashboard featuring a seven-inch color touch-screen will certainly draw attention.

The car has a built-in Intellilink infotainment system that allows users to control online services through apps, like Pandora Internet Radio or Stitcher Radio, through voice commands or the touch-screen interface. The system also allows the car to access online content via a smartphone with a 3G data connection connected through Bluetooth and allows users to control their phone wirelessly via the same interface.

Such in-car technology is not new and in fact is already common. Many cars have CarPlay, Apple Inc.’s mobile operating system for cars, that allows iPhones and devices running the iOS to function with built-in display units of automobile dashboards. The infotainment systems in Ford cars, called Ford’s Sync powered by Microsoft, allows integration with some mobile apps like Pandora and Spotify. Ford Sync also allows users to make hands-free telephone calls, control music and perform other functions with the use of voice commands.

Carmakers are not just the ones who stand to benefit from car technology in terms of unit sales as they give users a better driving experience through various functionality and entertainment. Internet music and radio will also draw connected cars users translating to more online radio listening, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

Online streaming on the car is growing in prevalence, said Gareth Owen, ABI Research industry analyst. Citing Edison Research’s Infinite Dial 2013 Study, Owen said 58 percent of consumers said they listen to AM/FM radio in the car all the time. In the follow-up Infinite Dial 2014 Study, the use of car audio systems to listen to online radio increased.

One out of 4 or 26 percent of cell phone users have been connecting their device to a car system to be able to listen to online radio, the 2014 report said. This is a large improvement compared to only 11 percent in 2011, 17 percent in 2012 and 21 percent in 2013.

The trend is expected to continue as ABI Research forecasts that in 2019 over 24 million new cars will be fitted with CarPlay. Earlier this year, several car original equipment manufacturers announced that they would be releasing new cars installed with CarPlay capabilities, including Ford, BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Jaguar/Land Rover, Toyota, Nissan, and Volvo. Other cars will have the Android Auto, which the Google-led Open Automotive Alliance will fit in cars so Android devices can be used in automobiles.

While music will remain the most popular in-car entertainment, online radio listening, which is already gaining ground in mobile devices, is not a far-fetched alternative to music-streaming sites like Pandora or Spotify. Audioboo, the non-music social media network dubbed as the audio version of YouTube, will also find front seat and backseat listeners in the connected cars.

Audioboo is currently the hub of podcasters, independent broadcasters and reviewers of all sorts. About 13 million monthly users listen for free to the platform’s 2,000 premium channels that include BBC, ESPN, Sky Sports, Reuters and Aljazeera. Aside from news, live sports broadcast and a vast array of radio programs, Audioboo users can freely listen to educational audios and audiobooks plus share the content via Twitter, Facebook or their own website.

Audioboo is owned and run by U.K.-based Audioboom Group PLC’s (BOOM.L).

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