The number of automotive apps downloads could hit 4.3 billion by 2018, generating US$1.67 billion in revenues worldwide, predicted ABI Research. This would be a huge jump from a figure of 12 million downloads in 2012.
Although connected cars have been on the market for several years, pioneered by platforms such as GM's OnStar and Ford's SYNC, their growth has been relatively modest and car companies have struggled to generate revenues from monthly subscriptions.
This could all change with car OEMs who now increasingly see infotainment as a key differentiator in their cars, said Gareth Owen, principal analyst at ABI Research. "We predict a sharp growth in the adoption of connected car infotainment systems over the next few years, with apps being the main driver, as for the iPhone."
With several proprietary, open standard, and open source systems vying to become the de-facto technology for downloading apps in the car, the battle for domination of the automotive app space is heating up, as car OEMs, Tier-1 suppliers, and companies such as Apple and Google maneuver to capture the biggest slice of the automotive app cake.
ABI Research also expects a sharp rise in Bluetooth in cars driven by growth in adoption of connected car infotainment systems. Consumers already use their phones extensively to listen to music or connect with social media sites. As Bluetooth becomes more prevalent in cars, they will be able to make hands-free calls, listen to Pandora or Spotify, or check their Facebook accounts in their vehicles, or on their phones, in a completely seamless manner.
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