Automotive market rapidly expanding beyond handsfree calling
The automotive industry is one of the fastest growing markets for Bluetooth technology, with Bluetooth enabled handsfree calling systems now included as standard equipment on millions of new cars and trucks. All 12 of the world's major car manufacturers now offer Bluetooth handsfree calling systems in their vehicles.
The explosion in handsfree calling systems has been spurred by safety concerns and new handsfree driving laws. Millions of people now look for handsfree calling systems when they shop for a new car, and millions more have added handsfree calling by purchasing Bluetooth speakerphones that clip to their car's visor – one of the simplest, lowest-cost handsfree calling systems available.
Many more drivers still use the original handsfree calling device – a Bluetooth headset – to keep their hands on the wheel while driving.
By 2013, electronics are likely to form 30 percent of the cost of a car, providing limitless opportunities for Bluetooth integration for hands-free communication, in-car entertainment systems, navigation and remote car diagnostics"
Wireless music and podcasts, too
Music is also pushing the growth of Bluetooth technology in the car. Now that so many drivers have experienced the convenience of handsfree calling, they also want to listen to music and podcasts in their car without the hassle of wires.
They want to wirelessly connect their Bluetooth enabled phone, iPod or MP3 player to their car's audio system. Drivers are doing so in record numbers with new Bluetooth enabled car receivers and audio systems.
The next big growth area: Apps in the car
Handsfree calling and wireless music are the biggest growth areas for Bluetooth technology in vehicles, but they're hardly the only areas.
More and more people are becoming aware that the powerful smartphones they carry with them can do much more than just let them talk and listen to music while driving – they can also run apps on the flat-panel display in their car. Apps to help them navigate, check traffic, view weather reports, look up movie and restaurant information, and perform other tasks that improve their driving experience.
Some of the biggest automakers are involved in the effort to get smartphone apps running in the car. For example, Toyota and Hyundai both offer new Bluetooth enabled systems for smartphone apps in the car, and Ford is aggressively pursuing the app market with its Bluetooth enabled Ford Sync system.
Consumer electronics makers also getting involved
Even consumer electronics makers such as Pioneer and Sony are getting in on the apps-in-the-car market, adding the ability to connect phones to their latest car receivers. These systems will allow drivers to run apps they might find useful while driving, sending information from their phone to their car's flat-panel display and audio system. Apps to perform tasks such helping drivers locate the cheapest gas nearby or play music streamed over the Internet via their phone.
New phone apps are also beginning to emerge that communicate wirelessly with a car to monitor and diagnose its mechanical and electrical systems. Automakers like this because adding wireless sensors to their cars can help them eliminate copper wires, thereby reducing vehicle weight, improving fuel economy, and lowering manufacturing costs.
Even more uses for Bluetooth technology in the car
The ability to make handsfree calls is included in many different devices people use in the car - not just factory installed handsfree calling systems.
For example, many car navigation systems now include Bluetooth handsfree calling. This includes the small, affordable nav devices you can mount on your windshield if your car lacks an integrated navigation system.
This added handsfree calling capability gives portable nav devices added value beyond just maps and navigation.
Bluetooth enabled tablets may also prove popular in the car. It's no secret that the iPad and other tablets are exploding in popularity. Just like mobile phones, virtually all tablets include Bluetooth technology.
Many drivers want to pair their tablet with a Bluetooth audio system in their car, to play music and podcasts over their car's speakers - even run apps in their car. Just as people enjoy connecting their phone in their car without wires, they'll want to wirelessly connect their tablet.
Handsfree calling, music, and smartphone apps are the three of the most obvious uses for Bluetooth technology in the car, but car makers are testing other possible future uses. For example, Ford is exploring Bluetooth enabled systems that can monitor a person's vital signs while driving.
Now is the time to get involved and establish a foothold in the automotive market for Bluetooth products, as it expands far beyond just handsfree calling.
Fast facts about the automotive market for Bluetooth products
- All 12 of the world's major car manufacturers offer Bluetooth enabled handsfree calling systems in their vehicles.
- There are 10-15 different ways to use Bluetooth technology in the car, including handsfree calling, music streaming, PC and tablet tethering, navigation, proximity sensors, entertainment systems and car diagnostics.
How to profit from this market
The Bluetooth SIG can help your company benefit from opportunities in the automotive market. Get started by joining the Bluetooth SIG community. We have more than 16,500 member companies worldwide making everything from cars and computers to mobile phones and microchips. To learn more, visit our membership page.