Saab USA Bluetooth – follow up

I posted the product memo for the US-spec Bluetooth kit a few weeks ago.

This was a much anticipated product as the Saab 9-3 had been without an approved Bluetooth solution in the US market, a deficiency that really needed to be rectified. The SaabUSA approved unit turns out to be a Motorola IHF-1000 unit and whilst it’s a good thing that there’s finally a solution available, it seems that all is not progressing smoothly.


There’s a thread at SaabCentral on this subject and some of the subscribers there have checked out the unit or had it fitted.

Complaint #1 – Price
Saab dealers have a recommended price of $320 for this kit, and yet one writer in the SC thread reported his local dealer asking $400 for the unit. This looks all the more stupid when you consider that the Motorola unit on its own can be purchased on Ebay for around $180 and from what I understand, the Saab wiring kit ain’t much extra.

Complaint #2 – Compatability
There’s two elements to this.

First, the fact that you can’t get this setup if you have a functional OnStar connection. So if you’re ordering a 2007 model 9-3 and you want SatNav, which requires OnStar, then you can’t have Bluetooth. This is, quite understandably, going to tick some people off.

Second, there’s the compatibility of the actual unit with different types of phones. One guy at SC reports that he tested the unit out and it didn’t work with Nokia E or N series phones, which was no good for him as he has one of each.

The good news is this:

I was able to get the kit working with other mobiles and it works very well when integrated. Voice dialing is decent and the reception is very nice and loud as it works through the car’s speakers.

But there is a pervading complaint…

Complaint #3 – That we have to do this at all
Surely, in 2007 – almost 40 years after man walked on the moon – you’d think that a modern motoring manufacturer could work this out for both Europe and the US.

For some people, the basic stuff like this CAN actually be a dealbreaker.

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  1. Sigh. Bluetooth.

    As one that is ankle-deep in Bluetooth daily, I can say that it’s actually a very good technology.

    On the other hand, the exceptions are maddening. Bluetooth incompatibilities are difficult to predict, and sometimes are due to something outside either manufacturer’s control.

    Without going into detail, let’s simply leave it at this: Bluetooth is 90% there. As a standard, there are a few things that aren’t specified, mostly with how the stack is handled on each device, and this affects interoperability. It will be worked out eventually, but it’s not yet perfect.

    Unfortunately for the owner in the comments above, Nokia seems to be troublesome more than other players in the Bluetooth space, so my inclination is to lay the blame on them rather than the Motorola device. Curious that BOTH Nokia devices were incompatible, don’t you think?

    I’ll end with this comment: Actually, given the limitations of Bluetooth and the scenarios like the aforementioned, I’m pleased that Saab simply adopted an available technology from a leading global provider such at Motorola rather than to try to develop something for themselves. This gives everyone the option of adopting the latest technology when it is released and it gets Saab out of the Bluetooth business and keeps them focused on the car business.

    Why GM, Ford and Chrysler persist in building their own AM/FM/CD units is beyond me. Put a @#$! DIN-sized hole in the dash and stick a Blaupunkt/ Pioneer/ Kenwood/ JVC/ Bose system in there! THe specifications will always be up-to-date, consumers will have choice, cost will go down and if the darn thing breaks, grab up another from the supplier and stick in in the hole! Is that really so hard? Do you make that much money on each stereo that you make? If so, we’ve got some bigger issues.

  2. This was the dealbreaker for me. I really wanted a 9-3 Aero and was willing to overlook so much (perceived reliability, sub-standard interior materials, older design and platform), but once I found out that every other country had bluetooth except the US, I lost it. I ended up getting a Lexus IS250. I still want a Saab, but I will wait until they get their act together (if they get their act together).

  3. Same here – at least with nav/onstar. My wife and I had one ordered and told them forget it.

    How difficult can it be to incorporate a technology that is years old?

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