OBD Form Factors Offer Dim Hope for Struggling Infotainment Aftermarket

21 Sep 2015

​The dominance of head units in the infotainment aftermarket will soon be broken with sales of OBD-II form factors exhibiting a CAGR of 29.5% and accounting for over 70% of aftermarket infotainment shipments in 2020.

The decades-old mandate for OBD-II ports in consumer vehicles in multiple regions means a large addressable market for ‘plug and play’ solutions, which deliver connected and personalized services for older vehicles. Onboard diagnostics (OBD) dongles make use of GNSS, an embedded cellular connection, and data from embedded sensors and the vehicle CAN-bus to deliver a myriad of diagnostic and location-based services. However, not all OBD solutions offer this full range of services, with some being specialized in the areas of usage based insurance (UBI), some on providing portable Wi-Fi hotspots and still others being focused on connected diagnostics.

This is what makes OBD-II platform aftermarket application frameworks like Mojio or Vinli so appealing,” comments James Hodgson, Research Analyst. “A simple reality of the OBD port is that only one is to be found in every car – with no easy way of adapting it to support the various solutions which need its power and unique access to CAN-bus data. OBD dongles with support for multiple third-party applications enable the peaceful coexistence of would-be competitive services, as well as the promise of more to come.”

These services tend to run silently in the background, given the small form factor of OBD dongles and typically hidden location of the OBD-II port, which prevents real-time interaction. Aftermarket HUDs, in contrast, particularly from vendors such as Navdy and Exploride, seek to provide vivid color displays within the driver’s line of sight. Through a combination of voice and gesture controls, drivers can safely enjoy a variety of connected infotainment services, including off-board navigation and music streaming.

In the long term, however, aftermarket vendors will still struggle to maintain their relevance in the face of the proliferation of connected consumer vehicles which will be kept up to date via OTA updates and by hardware updates in the field enabled by modular hardware architectures.

These findings are part of ABI Research’s Automotive Infotainment Research Service, which includes Research Reports, Market Data, Insights, and Competitive Assessments.

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