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The Smartphone Is the New Car Radio

Study predicts nearly 100 million Internet-connected cars will be on the road by 2016.

By Douglas Newcomb Mar 16, 2012 8:07AM

Buick IntelliLink. Photo by General Motors.For years, the radio in the dashboard was the driver’s only connection to the outside world. Now, the radio is starting to play second fiddle to the smartphone, which -- thanks to its Internet connectivity -- allows drivers to download a whole new world of content.

A new report by Jupiter Research predicts that just as the radio was standard equipment for decades, Internet connectivity will become common in cars, with smartphone integration providing the backbone. After surveying the automotive telematics market in eight major regions around the world, Juniper Research forecasted that by 2016 more than 92 million vehicles on the road will have Internet connectivity.

With systems such as BMW ConnectedDrive, Ford Sync’s AppLink, Buick IntelliLink and Toyota Entune, we’re already seeing the first wave of the trend. And more are just down the road, such as Mercedes-Benz mbrace2, that will add social media to the mix.

Growth in the connected car space will also get a boost from adoption by commercial fleets, which are just getting rolling with the technology. Juniper Research forecasts that the commercial-fleet industry will get on board with connected platforms in large numbers starting in 2014; these companies see telematics as a way to accurately measure driver efficiency and reduce costs. Jupiter Research added that regulation initiatives such as the European Union's eCall system will likewise boost adoption of telematics systems in vehicles that provide emergency response.

One potential roadblock to the growth of in-car connectivity in the U.S. could be government regulations. The National Transportation Safety Board late last year called for a complete ban on mobile phones in cars to combat the potential distracted driving that the devices can cause. But the Transportation Department and Secretary Ray LaHood have since shown a willingness to work with automakers to come up with solutions that are safe and realistic.

That is, until we’re all driving autonomous cars and can text and tweet all we want.

[Source: CNET]

Mar 18, 2012 9:53AM
The only issue I have with this is the downgrade of sound quality. Internet radio doesn't sound as good as a CD, and often times sounds worse than an FM broadcast.
Mar 16, 2012 9:33AM

If this happens I think it would spell doom for satelite radio.  Our car came with it but we never subscribed to it.  On our last long trip we were able to use my iPhone by connecting it to the stereo and used the internet radio app.  We occasionally lost the signal and had to reset the app but it worked for the most part.  Now that I know it works I will never consider subscribing to satelite radio.  I don't know if there are enough people in this country that live that far off the grid to keep satelite radio service profitable.

Mar 19, 2012 6:10AM

I don't have a single song in my smartphone. I haven't purchased a CD or a song from iTunes since I got Sirius satellite radio in 2006. I had about 1000 CD's and sold most of them to a CD store. Having the SiriusXM app on my Android phone is all I need. Every type of music channel you want commercial free, plus every sporting event, talk show, and of course

Howard Stern. The app is free with the internet listening package for $2.99/month, less then the cost of 2 songs/month on iTunes. It saves so much data space in your smartphone. Internet radio is no competition.

Mar 16, 2012 9:57AM
Data caps will make this idea either live or die.  Listening to internet music in your car is just going to eat data. It probably won't exceed the cap, but it will eat into your limit allowing less data for other uses like video when you aren't driving.

I will admit though, the 5GB cap AT&T allows for LTE does seem more attractive for this.  The 3GB cap for 3G though might get a little tight, especially if you are using it for a car radio. If the mobile companies loosen their grips on data caps, this idea will take off.  If they tighten up though, this is a non starter.

Mar 19, 2012 6:21AM

I was an AT&T customer since 1999. $69.99 for unlimited talk, 20 bucks for texting, and 50 bucks for 3 GB of data with the

wifi hotspot tethering to use my tablet or laptop without a separate plan. $140.00/month. Ridiculous. The T-Mobile HTC

MyTouch 4G Slide is the best smartphone I've ever had. And HALF the monthly price of AT&T. Verizon is even more expensive, Sprint is in between. $74.99/month for unlimited talk and text and unlimited data. It's 5 GB of 4G but you never have overage charges like AT&T or Verizon. If you go over the 5 GB, which is a lot, it slows to 2GB speed. if you need more 4G the 10 GB plan is still less then AT&T or Verizon. And the wifi hotspot tethering for my tablet is included in the $74.99. Plus they offer a 12% corporate discount for eligible companies. AT&T had an 18% corporate discount, but didn't apply to unlimited plans. What a joke. What good is a discount if you can't use it? Besides AT&T, T-Mobile is the only other GSM carrier, so it will work worldwide. If I had an iPhone, which is ridiculous that it's only 3G, and was on Verizon or Sprint and couldn't use my phone outside of North America I'd switch carriers immediately.

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