SAN FRANCISCO—Shipments of built-in car Wi-Fi systems are set to soar by more than 40 fold by 2017, as automakers increasingly view wireless connectivity as a key competitive differentiator, according to market research firm iSuppli Corp., which is now part of business intelligence provider IHS Inc.
Worldwide automotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) shipments of Wi-Fi systems will rise to 7.2 million units in 2017, up from just 174,000 in 2010, according to iSuppli's forecast
According to Stacey Oh, an analyst and regional manager for Asia automotive research at iSuppli, major OEMs are noticeably incorporating Wi-Fi system into new-model releases. "Whereas Wi-Fi was an aftermarket accessory in the past, OEMs now are touting it as a key offering," Oh said.
On Monday (Nov. 22), rival market research firm In-Stat issued a report that found that cars will increasingly become mobile hot spots, generating Wi-Fi chip revenues of $100 million by 2015. The wireless autos will make up a drop in the bucket of what In-Stat anticipates will be a billion unit market for Wi-Fi chips by 2012.
ISuppli (El Segundo, Calif.) noted that Ford Motor Co. is turning its vehicles into Wi-Fi hot spots with the next generation of its Sync in-car connectivity system. MyFord is able to incorporate in-car Wi-Fi connectivity, powered by any customer’s existing USB mobile broadband modem, reducing cost for the consumer and the OEM and requiring less space in the vehicle for a modem, iSuppli said.
Meanwhile, European OEMs are taking a different route, iSuppli said. Marvell Technology and Harman Automotive in August announced integrated Wi-Fi connectivity via Marvell Mobile Hotspot technology, with the 2010 Audi A8 as the first vehicle on the market to feature the factory-installed mobile hotspot, iSuppli said.
"Wi-Fi gives OEMs a competitive advantage," Oh said. "Staying connected is important to users and can improve the overall in-vehicle experience. And as Sync has elevated Ford’s image as a cutting-edge technology brand, OEMs probably want their brands to be associated with Wi-Fi to at least be relevant in this connected era."
Given that there is already talk of laws prohibiting some use of the cell phones while driving (for the driver) due to the distraction factor, I wonder how long it would be before "driving while interneting" (DWI!) would be prohibited. I agree that it "might" be nice for the passengers to have internet access but I question the value add for a car. I would think that there is more bang for the buck with the 4G enabled phones/devices, they are usable most everywhere and do not require you to be in the car.
I agree that it is another distraction for the driver. It would be great for the passengers (if there are any) and when the car is parked. It is also another automotive feature that has a residual revenue stream like satellite radio and On Star.
Very soon, the car, the home, the office, anywhere cannot be differentiated with all these mobile systems. I personally do not like the idea of connecting the car, just like I wish cellphones should stop ringing when driving. But these are the future and we better get ready.
"Key offering" maybe, but it looks like it won't be much of a "differentiator" since they'll all pretty much have it. I suppose there could be differing levels of implementation to differentiate, but I doubt if there will be significant differences except in possibly the pre-installed devices. I'm not sure how much more distraction I want to have in my car - just watching traffic can be sufficient especially during peak traffic hours.
I hope the automotive manufacturers price this feature competitively with the MIFI device from Verizon, Sprint, and others. The MIFI device provides a mobile WiFi hotspot with built-in broadband modem. Even better, it can be moved from car to car.
Distraction in the car is growing. With WiFi enabled vehicle, there will be Internet and Cloud-based service in the way of driver's attention to the road.
On the hands, mobile hotspot is an idea. Is there any detail that can be shared?