What lies ahead for Bluetooth® Automotive Devices?
The Bluetooth handsfree market is very different to other Bluetooth automotive markets. With more countries and states banning cell phone usage while driving, the correlation on sales for Bluetooth handsfree devices is positive.
It makes sense to use Bluetooth for handsfree calling; firstly there were around 500 million Bluetooth-enabled handsets in 2007 worldwide, consumers are aware of the handsfree use-case, use it, and like the fact that their cell can be left in their pocket or briefcase, whilst they drive and chat.
However, tapping into the other markets like audio streaming, video streaming and wireless sensors may prove to be a lot harder for Bluetooth technology. According to Research Analyst Filomena Berardi, author of the ‘The Wireless Car’ report, “Fundamentally Bluetooth offers tremendous benefits to other applications within the car. It is a little premature for video streaming and wireless sensors as both would require new specifications (high speed Bluetooth and Bluetooth low energy), which are incomplete.” She added, “However there is a lot of excitement in the automotive industry regarding the concept of Bluetooth low energy sensors, especially in the form of dual mode head units.”
Nevertheless in the here and now, Bluetooth audio streaming (A2DP) already penetrates a number of products in the aftermarket and OEM. The A2DP automotive market is still relatively small compared to handsfree calling. While sales of A2DP-enabled PMPs and handsets will have a positive impact on A2DP penetration rates in automotive applications, unfortunately unlike the Bluetooth handsfree market, it’s not going to be an easy ride for A2DP.
Berardi commented, “At this stage a significant majority of consumers are unfamiliar with the concept of wirelessly streaming music via Bluetooth. However, IMS predict that this situation will change and as the number of A2DP-enabled peripheral devices increase so to will consumer adoption.”
The extra cost that consumers have to pay for A2DP-enabled automotive products is still somewhat high and unlike handsfree calling, there is no legislative incentive to pay the premium. In addition, some industry experts are still concerned that the quality of A2DP is not consumer ready and does not warrant such a high premium.
To sum up the market for Bluetooth in automotive devices, the journey for Bluetooth in this industry has only just begun. There are still many undiscovered applications and it will be interesting to see how the roadmap for Bluetooth will pan out.