Parrot bets on Android winning in-car device market

Best known for hands-free car phone kits, Parrot has spent the last three years and tens of millions of euros developing the first-ever car radio based on Google’s Android, gambling that it will become a must-have for drivers wanting more than just a good stereo system and a cradle for their smartphones.

Instead, the 250 million-euro ($312 million) company believes they will want its voice-controlled, multi-purpose “Asteroid” radio, the first version of which it launched last year. The company says it has sold between 20,000 and 25,000 radios so far to individual buyers for around $290.

The current version features relatively few apps but Android’s “open-source” platform means that any software developer can modify the code of existing apps to adapt them to the car as well as create and share new apps that might appeal specifically to drivers and as first-mover this could be a potential “game changer” for Parrot, said Roger Lanctot, associate director for the global automotive practice at Strategy Analytics.