However, many punters didn’t make much of it. They viewed it as a PR stunt that couldn’t yield much in the way of unit sales or revenues. According to ABI Research, this is not the case. The research firm estimates revenues from processors shipped in car systems will hit $1.6 billion by 2020. Last year they were just $360 million.
There are a few factors behind such an optimistic forecast. First of all technology is getting cheaper, allowing powerful systems to be designed and installed the fraction of the cost of what consumers were used to paying for navigation systems a few years ago.
Secondly, the mobile revolution has spoiled people. Car makers simply have to offer more gadgets in all price segments. Consumers can pick up a decent smartphone or tablet for €200/$200, hence the absence of smart tech in cars that cost a hundred times as much is just no longer acceptable.
"Leading silicon players are developing scalable processor products that cover a range of solutions from market entry to high-end while maintaining software compatibility, and many of these will have dedicated graphics processing units (GPUs) to deal with the increasing demands of infotainment systems and automotive clusters," commented principal analyst, Gareth Owen.
There are a few external tech trends, too. The availability of speedy 4G LTE networks is changing the way people access data on the go and it is coming to cars. Bluetooth 4.0, new WiFi standards and NFC also make for some interesting possibilities. For example, earlier this year Fiat demonstrated an NFC-based system that would allow users to unlock and start their cars with a smartphone. New Bluetooth standards could also be used to develop interesting new in-car gadgets.
But what we really want to see as standard in our cars is a simple, rubberized wireless charging mat on the dash or central console.