Monday, August 9, 2010

Smartphone In-Car Usage to Increase Significantly

A recent Survey by Frost and Sullivan predicts that the number of cars connected to the internet via the smartphone will exceed 5 million by 2015, in just North America alone. There is a gradual shift to this hybrid model of connecting a smartphone from inside a car (or hybrid connected telematics).  In fact Ford Synch has played a big part in this consumer shift, especially in the 'Gen Y' demographic who are driving the use of mobile Internet on smartphones.   Downloading apps from sites like Apple is becoming increasingly popular in North America and Europe.

Gen Y will continue to account for at least a quarter of the total population until 2030, but in South Asia, Gen Y will likely represent over 40 per cent of the population by 2030.  This is clearly a huge opportunity for vehicle manufacturers and for Internet radio which is the most popular App in cars at present.  

Should the satellite radio companies be worried?  Yes, if they continue to price monthly subscriptions at $13 a month.  That price level  can no longer be justified by many and in fact Sirius has been declining for about 2 years.  Internet radio is essentially free and customizable.  There are many good services to choose from such as Pandora or Slacker which are essentially free, but offer true customization for a small subscription.  However, you will have to watch the data consumption rates if you are on an AT&T plan.  The sensible option is the subscription service for Slacker Radio which gives you offline listening by caching and storing the music. Slacker Plus is $3.99 a month which is considerably lower than satellite radio subscription.  The App is free and works with iPhone, Android and Palm.  Alternatively, listening to previously downloaded podcasts is truly free and you can connect your iPhone with an accessory, enabling you to listen through a free FM station.  

There's no question that your smartphone is going to be your in-car device for navigation and now for music and podcasts too.

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