How Infotainment Technology Is Transforming the Auto Industry

In-vehicle infotainment systems provide information and entertainment for drivers and their passengers. Consumers can use the systems to navigate, listen to music, make calls, and more.

While you may think of these systems as fun add-ons for cars, they’re transforming the automotive industry. Here’s how.

Infotainment Is Creating New Business Models

Traditionally, automotive companies made their money from car sales. Once a car was sold, the company wouldn’t make any more money from it. To grow revenues, car companies needed to increase their one-time vehicle sales by expanding into new markets.

Infotainment technology is changing this traditional model. Car companies can charge monthly fees for access to their infotainment systems. This provides a new, recurring revenue stream for car companies. General Motor’s OnStar is a good example of the potential profitability of these systems. OnStar’s revenues are estimated to be about $1.5 billion annually.

Car Technology Needs to Be Upgradable

Modern cars are like computers on wheels. Like all other computers, they can become outdated as new technology is released. The speed of innovation is increasing, so cars with brand-new technology can become outdated in no time. Most of the cars people buy today will run the same software forever, according to The Verge. The only way to upgrade the cars is to buy a new one. Buying a new car just to get a better infotainment system isn’t practical.

The need for upgradable car technology is a big change for the auto industry. Now, automakers need to allow their infotainment systems to be updated. They need to decide how long they’ll offer support and upgrades for their past infotainment systems.

Most infotainment systems still can’t be upgraded over the air. Some systems can’t be updated at all. With other systems, you need to visit a dealership or use a USB drive to get a software update. Similar technology, like mobile phones, can be updated over the air using a Wi-Fi connection. Automakers will need to ensure their infotainment systems can do the same thing.

Increased Privacy Concerns

The growth of infotainment technology has brought increased privacy concerns to the auto industry. Carmakers are able to collect data not just about their cars, but about the people driving them. Information about passengers can also be collected. This data could be used for many purposes, not just ones that are related to safe transportation.

Automakers need to make sure the data they’re collecting doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. For example, when people sell their cars, or return their rental cars, they need to be able to thoroughly wipe their infotainment systems. They also need a way to provide consent for their data to be collected. These are challenging issues for infotainment engineers and others in the industry.

Security Concerns for the Automotive Industry

Infotainment technology is also bringing new security concerns to the automotive industry. Consumers are now worried about their cars getting viruses or getting hacked. According to one survey, 33 percent of consumers classify vehicle hacking as a serious problem; another 35 percent say it’s a moderate problem. Fifty-eight percent don’t think automakers can develop a permanent solution to vehicle hacking.

The automotive industry needs to ensure infotainment systems are safe and secure, not just useful and fun. This is a big challenge for the industry. To make secure systems and increase trust with consumers, automakers need to hire talented engineers. Over half of consumers say they’d be willing to pay a monthly subscription fee to ensure their cars were safe from hacking, so this presents another possible revenue stream for the industry.