Have you encountered a vehicle that has WiFi built-in? We did last year at CES 2010 but not really in the wild. It seems to be similar to the iPad (have any of you seen one of THOSE in the wild?). The reason is because this year only 174,000 units have shipped worldwide. Not a terribly impressive number.
On the other hand, by 2017, it is expected that around 7.2 million units will ship worldwide, with about half making it to the US. That is an impressive number, no matter what Nintendo thinks. 1.1 million of those units will ship as aftermarket in the US, which means somewhere in the vicinity of 2.5 million will ship as part of a vehicle from the manufacturer.
What does this mean and why is it important? Hit the break.
iSuppli, the company who released these numbers, said,
Wi-Fi in the car is a hot topic these days, with major OEMs noticeably incorporating it into new-model releases. Whereas Wi-Fi was an aftermarket accessory in the past, OEMs now are touting it as a key offering.
With Ford MySync having the feature standard on 2011 Edge and Lincoln MKX, it is possible that the popularity will increase. On the other hand, who still uses a USB stick that isn't an employee of one of the wireless carriers who can't get a discount on hardware? Between the MiFi on Sprint, Virgin Mobile and Verizon, the Overdrive 4G on Sprint and a whole host of Android-based and webOS devices with their own internal WiFi capabilities, how useful will this feature really be in 12-24 months?
The only way I see this trend continuing is if the WiFi goes the other way and accepts it from the phone or MiFi to allow you to use Pandora and the like right from the car stereo.