Over half of all 2009 automobiles planned for sale in the United States will feature support for Portable Media Players (PMPs), says a report from iSuppli, an electronics market analysis group. This option illustrates automakers’ push to increase sales through merging technology with amenities and modern conveniences.
Consumers throughout the United States have demanded improved connectivity between their lifestyles and mobility, insisting on audio/visual support with their PMPs. Leading the charge has been Apple Inc.’s iPod, with 39% of 2008 vehicle models featuring an option for the product. In 2009, the amount is expected to jump to 58% of vehicles featuring iPod support directly from the factory. As for other popular brands, roughly 33% of all vehicles will come with a USB interface, up from 16% a year ago.
In iSuppli’s 2009 Automotive Technology Availability Index, consumer expectations of available technology highlight the change in perception. “The automotive industry is at the point where in-vehicle technologies—or the lack of them—are influencing sales,” claims Phil Magney, vice president of automotive research for iSuppli. “The charge toward greater technological integration has been led by OEMs such as Hyundai and Honda, which are making USB/iPod combination interfaces standard on many of their vehicles. It’s also been spurred by OEMs such as Audi and Mercedes, which offer integrated Media Device Gateways that allow any device imaginable to integrate with a vehicle.”
As stated, the lack of these products as standard equipment on all vehicles, but as options on a growing number of them, has left the door open to specialty-equipment manufacturers. As of 2008, only 8% of respondents in recent enthusiast surveys claimed to have purchased these types of devices.
Even more notable is the aggressive adoption of Bluetooth wireless devices. In 2009, 82% of new vehicles will be equipped with such technology, either as standard or optional equipment. Only 55% of current models have the option. Moreover, nearly all mobile devices released in the past year offer some degree of Bluetooth connectivity.
Mark Boyadjis, North American automotive analyst for iSuppli, notes, “The influx of Bluetooth technology has blanketed the consumer electronics industry, and this is spilling over into cars.” According to the latest SEMA study, one in five enthusiasts surveyed have purchased a Bluetooth-enabled product within the past year or plan to purchase one in the next year.
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