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Infotainment Wars

by GPS4US 2012-06-29 17:20

Infotainment device is a fairly new term that indicates a new direction for automakers and suppliers of car audio and navigation devices. Earlier this year, Parrot, a French tech company known for its hands-free blue tooth devices, announced an Android-based Asteroid, an in-car device that provides access to Google’s Maps service and open-source application market in addition to the standard features like playing music.

This month, Apple announced it’s entry into the car electronics and navigation market.

And why not? Apple’s own Maps service coupled with free turn-by-turn navigation and real-time traffic update makes iPhone a navigation device on its own, making it able to rival Android devices in one of the few areas where Google had a distinct advantage.

Apple’s newly announced “Eyes Free” feature, where driver is able to activate Siri by pushing a button on a steering wheel, makes every other player on the field nervous.

The shares of Harman, maker of audio and navigation devices for luxury auto makers like Audi and Mercedes, fell sharply following Apple’s announcement. So did the shares of Garmin and TeleNav. They were able to regain some of the loss, but the trend is unmistakable – Apple is in the car electronics market. Nine auto-makers, including Audi, BMW, GM, Honda, Toyota and Mercedes, have reportedly agreed to add Apple’s Siri button to their steering wheel controls.

So far, the only traditional navigation device maker that managed to benefit from the announcement is TomTom. The Dutch company signed a map licensing deal with Apple.

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