Carmakers have slowly realized their business model is not only challenged by peers and emerging rivals but also by unexpected competitors – such as the $499 iPad from Apple.

No less than 259 million tablets are forecasted to be sold next year, surging above the traditional PC and laptop segment for the first time, according to consultancy Gartner Inc. Many of them can become ad-hoc onboard entertainment for restless children in minivans or bored executives in chauffeur-driven autos. This has turned into a challenge for carmakers, which have been selling for decades add-ons that serve that exact purpose. To safeguard their lucrative business and also retain the high-value of their brand, luxury brands have adapted to offer their own tablets that will be better integrated with the vehicle than any iPad or Android slate. Audi wants to offer a tablet in the next generation Q7 crossover later on this year. BMW has a charging dock for a personalized tablet used in the back of its latest generation 7 Series. “We want to stay on the cutting edge,” comments a BMW North America executive. “With innovations continuing to improve tablets, we have to improve how our systems work in the car.”

These automotive tablets are just as useful as regular ones, usually using Google’s Android operating system, the most popular interface globally when it comes to tablets – with complete access to the Google Play store. But they can also connect to the car’s integrated Wi-Fi connection, allowing streaming of video or to surf the Internet. But more importantly, they can access the car’s electronics – for example assisting the driver with inputting the next destination in the navigation system.

Via Automotive News


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