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Cars open opportunities for smart phone apps

Posted: 15 Oct 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:smart phone application  software  automotive electronics 

Smart phone applications—or apps—are emerging as one of the fastest-growing and most competitive tech industry segments. Involved are device manufacturers, wireless service providers and software developers, all fighting it out for a share of the market. At the 2009 Internationale Automobil Ausstellung (IAA), or Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW, Nokia and Parrot SA all unveiled different approaches to bringing smart-phone apps to cars.

"The global automotive industry has entered an exciting phase with OEMs, suppliers and software developers all pushing innovative and unique approaches to add apps to cars," said Kevin Hamlin, analyst for automotive electronics at iSuppli Corp. "For software developers, this opens a whole new domain to sell their apps. For car makers, apps provide new ways to deliver infotainment and telematics services to customers. For motorists, apps allow them to enjoy their infotainment systems to the fullest, while paying only for the applications they want, thus saving them money. With apps so critical to the automotive market, companies are pushing approaches that benefit their specific goals. While the solutions shown at IAA were only concepts, they clearly reflect what will soon be on the market."

BMW used IAA to unveil its newest aspect of its ConnectedDrive offerings: the Concept BMW Application Store. The store offers several different apps to users who can then download them to their iDrive via the car or a home PC and then transfer the applications to the car. So far, the apps available include multimedia travel guides from Merian, Geowiki, various games, Web radio, podcasts, Facebook, XING and Twitter. The Concept BMW Application Store also allows users to transfer contact data to the navigation system or mobile phone.

The apps are also able to access and use vehicle-related information, such as when the social networking tool XING uses the car's location. BMW hopes to have a constant stream of new apps available for users in the future.

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