Renault thinks that its best option to increase sales of its R-Link infotainment system is to follow Apple's iPhone and App Store business model. This year, Renault will launch the R-Link in the Clio subcompact, Zoe EV and Fluence large sedan. Renault accomplishes this by presenting applications that could be downloaded onto the users’ proprietary R-Link tablet computer.
Renault is requiring customers to pay for the in-car computer as well as for the apps to operate in their car. This is a huge risk for Renault since the system has to be extremely practical and simple to operate so that customers become willing to pay for it. The R-Link tablet, which has a price tag of less than 1,000 euros, will be filled with navigation, communications, entertainment, travel services and other applications.
The apps can be accessed via voice commands by the drivers who can use the system to send and receive e-mails, tweets and phone texts. Later on, users will be able to buy over 50 apps available from the R-Link Store.
Renault's approach is different from other carmakers, which are finding ways to permit customers to operate some of their smartphone applications on their vehicle’s infotainment systems.
According to Renault's rivals, customers aren’t willing to pay hundred of euros for a system that stays locked in the car. Renault now faces the challenge of convincing developers that they can tap into a market that could reach a million units if R-Link is widely used in the Clio, Zoe and Fluence.
Renault said that since R-Link runs on an Android platform, its developers can effortlessly convert Android smartphone applications to the R-Link platform.
R-Link would fail if it turns out later to be clunky and filled with bugs. However, if Renault does the right thing, its mainstream rivals would probably also look into an Apple store-like business model when they create their own infotainment systems.