Tesla’s in-car internet browser is bad. Almost unusable. An upcoming software update is expected to improve it significantly and it could change the way Tesla owners use their large 17-in center screen since, as a new study shows, a strong majority of Tesla owners currently don’t even use the browser.

Drawbridge, a firm researching electronic device usage and currently observing 3.3 billion devices globally, studied the usage of Tesla’s browser over a month-long period and sent us some of their findings.

First off, they estimate that less than 30% of Tesla owners used the browser during that month:

Over the period of a month, they observed only 38,932 Teslas owners used their web browser – a sliver of the 150,000+ total Model S and Model X electric cars on the road. Over a 7-day period, that figure shrinks to 5,747.

That makes sense. Considering that almost everyone has a decent smartphone nowadays and that those are equipped with a significantly better browser than a Tesla, most Tesla owners are simply using their phones when browsing internet inside the car (hopefully not when driving of course).

What is more interesting is that it looks like those who do use the in-car browser are quite active on it. Drawbridge came to that conclusion by looking at the total number of ad requests in 7 days, which totaled 1,447,681, coming to 36 ad requests per day per active browser.

Based on those ads, the firm was able to determine roughly what they were browsing:

  • 55.46% of cars accessed News content, including 40.35% looking at National News, 22.24% looking at International News, and 25.18% looking at Local News
  • 22.88% access Sports-related content
  • On-the-go topics were also relatively popular: Food & Drink (17.4%), Shopping (16.432%), Travel (13.85%), and Real Estate (9.67%)

Right now it’s obviously not a selling feature for Tesla, but it will be interesting to see how usage improves following the upcoming update. The core Linux OS is expected to be upgraded to 4.4 next month and it should make Tesla’s OS more efficient resulting in a faster browser.

There’s a lot of discussions right now about in-car connectivity with the advent of self-driving technology. Tesla’s Autopilot still requires full attention from the driver, but the company’s vehicles are now equipped with hardware that could soon enable level 5 autonomy, which doesn’t require drivers to stay alert.

In-car devices could play a more important role at that point or personal devices could keep gaining ground inside the vehicles. Either way, it will be an interesting subject to follow in the near future.

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