In a world of constant development, smart phone applications, or apps, are no exception, and the race is on to see who will provide the next killer app and on which platform it will launch. For the ?rst quarter of 2010, the global smart phone market is split among a handful of major players, including the Symbian operating system by Nokia Corp. at 43 percent, the Research In Motion operating system at 20 percent, the iPhone operating system by Apple Inc. at 15 percent, Android by Google Corp. at 11 percent, and Windows Mobile by Microsoft Corp. at 10 percent, according to iSuppli Corp.
Mobile phone users are attracted to smart phones for easier and faster communication, as well as the information availability through apps. In fact, the latest iSuppli data reveal that the Apple App store boasts more than 225,000 apps with more than 5 billion downloads to date. Furthermore, among smart phone features, one of the fast-growing areas is the use of GPS features, like navigation or local search. iSuppli data show worldwide GPS attach rates for smart phones for 2009 to be at 78 percent, up from 45 percent in 2008.
All of this has led to an increased relevance of the smart phone and apps in the car. As a result, iSuppli has begun to take a closer look at the growing list of vehicle-centric apps, which iSuppli categorizes into five generalized groups:
- Customer Relations Management (CRM)—Apps that provide the ability to obtain detailed vehicle owner’s information directly from a smart phone as well as other branded material from the vehicle manufacturer.
- Vehicle Location & Telemetry—Apps that communicate with the vehicle from an extended range for the purpose of location, or remote control.
- Traffic/Navigation/LBS—Apps that help with Location Based Services (LBS), navigation, traffic monitoring and weather reporting.
- Eco/Diagnostics—Apps offering eco-driving behavior or monitoring.
- Entertainment—Apps such as Pandora, Slacker or other radio services, games and video.
With the development of apps on a wide range of functionalities—spanning from simple car-finder apps to complex navigation apps featuring predictive traffic—iSuppli believes that the complexity of apps can only increase, bringing additional features to the consumer through an increasingly important communication channel.
From a market perspective, the current app market is divided among the three major app developers of Apple, RIM and Android, with Apple enjoying a significant share of the app market. However, as late-movers such as Symbian’s Nokia Ovi Store gather more strength in the app world, the race will be on to provide the most relevant and up-to-date vehicle-centric apps, as well as a multitude of other mobile apps and games. The complexities of app development will provide benefits to the consumer as well as challenges with a cluttered market and the issue of driver distraction in the vehicle