2016: The Year of Car Connectivity

Real time traffic news, navigation, and speed camera warnings are the top three types of in-car apps downloaded by drivers. With the advent of smartphones and apps, consumers are demanding more and more in-car content, according to a recent report. While this is putting car manufacturers and their suppliers under pressure to provide in-car connectivity, there are lots of meaty issues that are curbing this demand, with significant growth in the luxury, mid-size and small car segments not anticipated before 2016.

Telematics Update’s new Human Machine Interface Report 2012 Edition describes the complexities of HMI business models, the legislative landscape and market forecasts with a clear aim: to develop a lucrative business model for the connected car equipped for future applications and market growth.

It’s been a long time coming. I first got involved in ‘connected car’ projects with tech companies around 15 years ago. But while the ‘connected home’ and the ‘connected me’ offerings have matured, ‘connected car’ is clearly still struggling.

As we get increasingly used to putting our data in the cloud, what is possible from a technical perspective isn’t the biggest problem here. Of prime importance, Governments’ strict safety and driver distraction regulations must be adhered to – in the US in 2010 alone there were 3,000 deaths caused by distracted drivers.

Knowing that you and your family members are safe in their vehicles is a concern for all. This is definitely a scenario where you want to know that the app you depend on will work the way it is supposed to – not just for the usual family IT expert, but for all family members (even those easily distracted by shiny objects!)

So for the car manufacturers, being able to demonstrate all necessities have been fully thought-through – including the impact of driver error – is a huge limiting factor, and one where overall corporate reputation and brand trust will play a big part.

What about data security? This TED Talk video entitled ‘All Your Devices can be Hacked’ by computer science professor, Avi Rubin gives a chilling insight into how easy it can be for those determined enough to play fast and loose with your car’s computer. I think this is less intended to use shock tactics to be a ‘connected car’ party pooper, rather to make people aware of the kinds of questions people should be asking before climbing into their vehicle.

Road safety considerations aside, which in-car apps will people actually pay for? What translates well from consumer electronics to automotive is a subject even of industry debate. The study finds that advanced driver assistance systems, remote monitoring and control (for example providing data to your car dealership direct from your vehicle, to trigger telling you that it needs a service, or automatically begin updates over the air), and eco-routing/green technologies will generate most consumer demand. It will be interesting to see how this will play out across types of car – will it become a new arena for the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots?’

Ultimately, he who pays the piper calls the tune. There will be winners and losers, and it will shake up the entire automotive supplier ecosystem: “The automotive App Store and supporting software eco-system is the winning strategy – with many caveats.”

Whoever the losers are, let’s hope it’s not drivers.

Ronna PorterOnPR

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