INTERVIEW – In the past few months, Parrot has reinforced its co-operation with Renault and PSA through Continental, while achieving a successful start with Asian leading manufacturers such as HACO Autonet (Hyundai-Kia), Alpine, Kenwood and Pioneer.
Additionally, Parrot will be launching soon new products with top-level German car brands by early 2010.
Automotive Industry wanted to learn more about Parrot’s rise on the market and more precisely, about the Gateway approach it promotes.
Automotive Industries caught up again with Eric RIYAHI, OEM Director for Parrot
AI: Parrot promotes the concept of connectivity through a gateway approach. Can you let us know what this means?
ER : Parrot has developed its gateway approach between the vehicle and the outside world of nomadic devices.
The capability for connectivity to nomadic devices (USB, iPod, MP3 players, telephony) is located in this gateway, in the form of an interface to the vehicle’s network. Parrot maintains a best-in-class compatibility by permanently testing our solutions against new CE devices. We develop software updates to enhance compatibility and add new features. These are offered to our customers twice yearly. The update is applied to the gateway, and simplifies changes on the host, making updates simple and affordable.
AI: In-vehicle connectivity is currently being heavily promoted in solutions like Blue&Me and Sync, both powered by Microsoft. How does Parrot position itself in comparison with these players?
The communication campaigns you mention have been efficient in letting the general public discover automotive connectivity: Customers are now aware of the integrated telephony and multimedia features their cars can offer.
This gives higher sales perspectives for Parrot’s customers as these systems have promoted the general notion of automotive connectivity.
From a technical point of view, Parrot offers all Tier-Ones the opportunity to give their systems the same kind of features, with a higher level of integration and reduced costs : indeed, while Blue&Me and Sync rely on an external e-box, Parrot’s gateway can be integrated directly into an existing host device (such as a head unit).
AI: Please tell us about the new solutions Parrot offers on Renault and Peugeot-Citroen cars through Continental?
Parrot and Continental started working for Renault and Peugeot-Citroën as early as 2001, with integrated telephony car kits. In 2008, these manufacturers have renewed their trust in us through new OEM multimedia car kits, enhancing telephony with USB and iPod connectivity through the car radio and allowing customers to enjoy their multimedia devices through the vehicle’s HMI. This gateway also has the capability to manage Voice Recognition for future projects.
AI: How do you expect the current crisis in the automotive industry to impact your business?
Like the rest of the automotive business, our historical customers’ sales have gone down in 2009. However, Parrot maintains its capacity to innovate in new technologies.
Moreover, the impact of this slump is limited as Parrot has started new businesses with new customers through Japanese and Korean manufacturers and soon German carmakers.
AI: Will your future products and technologies be impacted by this slowdown and if so, how?
Parrot keeps investing in R&D for the next product range. The crisis exit will coincide with the launch of new products allowing enhanced connectivity for additional use cases allowed by Internet access or other wireless protocols, Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi and 3G+.
AI: Tell us a little about the work Parrot has done for BMW and what are some of the innovations you offered the car-maker?
We believe connectivity should be commodity, therefore all connectivity solutions should be developed jointly and across all car manufacturers. The human machine interface may vary from one carmaker or model to another but the technology used to connect the external devices should not change. Parrot is collaborating with major Tier-One players to provide BMW with connectivity solutions including telephony as well as iPod and USB management, all features being voice-recognition-enabled. Parrot used its gateway concept in the implemented solutions, with the same software platform and features set being ported onto different car projects, thus reducing development costs.