Auto-industry backs Nokia smartphone standard

Nokia has secured a major boost for its in-car smartphone connectivity standard, signing up leading tech firms and auto makers to help develop the technology.
Eleven firms including LG Electronics, Samsung, Toyota, Volkswagen and General Motors have formed the Car Connectivity Consortium to develop the Finnish vendor’s Terminal Mode connection standard and other wireless technologies including NFC. The group aims to release its first specifications within a few months.
Floris van de Klashorst, head of Nokia Automotive, claimed the consortium will help turn Terminal Mode into “the global standard for the integration of smartphones into vehicles,” and combine the “worlds of mobile ecosystems and applications with the automotive industry.”
The move also pitches Nokia against Google, which has already demonstrated infotainment concepts using versions of Android adapted for vehicles.
Car makers are showing more interest in smartphone platforms to address inherent differences in the lifecycle of vehicles and on-board technology.
Derek Brown, product manager for QCT’s connected car program, told Telecoms it can take three to four years for a car to go from design to showroom in a separate interview. Even then, car makers face problems in terms of the sheer longevity of the vehicle itself, which can far outlast the technology installed.
Brown’s view is backed by Stephanie Ethier, a senior analyst with InStat, who believes the automotive industry “must now keep pace with the innovation and scalability found in the consumer electronics industry.” The firm predicts shipments of infotainment units will hit 35 million by 2015.
David Wood, technology strategy lead at Accenture’s embedded software division, last month told that smartphone platforms are an attractive way round that problem, because they can be regularly updated. He said smartphone platforms are now as ready to make the leap into vehicles as they are tablets and other new devices, and that car-specific mobile apps could result.
However, Brown and Wood agree that developing a driver-friendly user interface is a priority to prevent those new apps distracting the driver.