IHS iSuppli sees great potential for tablets in infotainment systems
Media tablets like Apple's iPad hold strong potential for use as rear-seat entertainment solutions in automotive infotainment systems, predicts market researcher IHS iSuppli. However, before broader market acceptance can be reached several conditions have to be met.
According to iSuppli, the path for the wide usage of tablets in cars has been paved by smart phones, which have attained a key position in infotainment systems. With their extensive integration of multiple functions like global positioning system (GPS) and media players on top of their inherent connectivity smart phones have come to represent the preferential platform for car infotainment. Because of this, IHS iSuppli does not believe the importance of smart phones in vehicles will diminish.
Nevertheless, the popular high-tech toys also have disadvantages. One is their screen size, which is not adequate for prolonged use for media consumption and content viewing, in particular not in cars.
In the vehicle, both the driver and passengers are usually passive with regards to incoming data, meaning that they absorb and consume information and media, but do not create content. Due to their larger display, tablet computers do not show this disadvantage. For this reason, this new popular type of mobile device could become an optimal infotainment solution, in particular for the rear-seat passengers, explained HIS automotive infotainment analyst Luca De Ambroggi. "With their larger screen size, tablets are more suitable for content and information consumption", de Ambroggi said.
One of the key differences among PCs and media tablets is the fact that the media tablet's main purpose is to communicate, browse, search and read information and enjoy media and social networks. Tablets are not intended for the creation of content.
Another feature that distinguishes tablets from other platforms is that tablets are essentially a screen, or a touch screen, to be more precise. This defining attribute, together with the absence of a keyboard, confirms the media tablet's focus on content consumption rather than creation.
The aggressive competition among tablet makers has helped to foster improvements in the product, iSuppli explained. In the second product generation, tablet vendors such as Apple have focused on reducing weight and offer a more comfortable size. Apple also enhanced the product's speed with dual core processors and graphics capabilities that are more suitable for the applications that this kind of device is targeting.
However, connectivity has not particularly improved since there is still no supporting USB host interface in Apple's iPad 2, the most popular product in this market. iPad competitors have offered differing approaches to connectivity, trying to take advantage of what might be considered a weak point for Apple. The newly announced Google Honeycomb based on Android 3.1 serves as an example of a tablet supporting USB hosting.
Another shortcoming for tablets like the iPad is pricing. The cost of tablets still has not reached the sweet spot for wide proliferation in motor vehicles. Nevertheless, competition will push prices down in the near future, the market researcher predicts. This will make tablets more attractive for use in cars.
The integration of tablets like the iPad into car infotainment systems will benefit car makers in terms of image and branding. Because of this, many companies already are offering applications for tablets and smart phones dedicated to the automotive segment. Location based services (LBS), maps, point of interest (POI), augmented reality and social networking service apps are already available. These have found a great opportunity to spread quickly, taking advantage of Internet access and communication capabilities from Wi-Fi to 2G, 3G or LTE technologies.
This article originally appeared on EE Times Europe.