According to the latest analysis by Semicast Research, Harman and Panasonic led the automotive entertainment systems vendor share ranking in 2015, ahead of Alpine, Bosch, Clarion and Continental. Collectively these six suppliers are estimated to have accounted for two-thirds of shipments to this market last year. The major news however is the growing influence of Apple and Google in the auto market.
This is the eighth annual analysis of the automotive entertainment systems market by Semicast and the major changes to the forecasts this year all relate to the introduction of smartphone integration, such as Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto. As seen at CES in January, and at the major auto shows throughout last year, CarPlay and Android Auto require no technical setup in the vehicle and are more or less plug and play; the driver connects their smartphone to the vehicle's infotainment or navigation system, typically using Bluetooth, USB or WiFi, and the familiar app icons for phone, music, maps, messages, internet radio and so on are displayed on the centre screen. The phone apps are controlled from the entertainment system using the touchscreen, voice recognition and the buttons and dials in the vehicle.
Semicast sees the automotive entertainment market moving towards systems which are effectively portals that maximise the accessibility of apps, features and functions of smartphones and tablets. The adoption of smartphone integration is seen as the key factor driving change in this market and it is forecast to rapidly steer demand in favour of front seat infotainment systems, with shipments of conventional audio-only systems set for rapid decline.
Colin Barnden, Principal Analyst, Semicast Research, and study author, commented “I forecast shipments of light vehicles with smartphone integration to rise from around 1m in 2015 to more than 85m in 2022. Smartphone integration can be seen as acceptance by the auto industry that it cannot keep pace with trends in the mobile sector.”
Such is the speed of development of mobile electronics that Apple will have released two or maybe three iterations of the iPhone and iOS in the time between an automaker signing-off an infotainment or navigation system and that system entering series production. Automakers cannot build-in the latest technology, they can only interface it, thus opening the dashboard to Apple and Google.
With iPhone sales falling in the first quarter, and overall smartphone and tablet sales slowing, Apple and Google will be looking ever more closely at new opportunities. Whether either, or both, will follow Tesla and become mainstream auto makers is unknown, but the bigger picture is clear. These two technology giants, with a combined market cap in excess of one trillion dollars, have a foothold in the automotive market through CarPlay and Android Auto.
“Auto makers and their suppliers must move with the times. Blackberry, Motorola and Nokia are reminders of other tech companies that did not,” concluded Barnden.