Distilling recent automotive market developments down to five essential things that will emerge as the most important underlying automotive industry trends associated with connectivity is a great challenge. But here are five key trends for connected cars that I see moving forward.
1) Browser on wheels
First and foremost, the car has become a browser on wheels.
It is difficult to overstate this phenomenon, because it means nothing less than driving has become the equivalent of online search (an industry worth upwards of USD 100 billion) with all that that implies for monetizing driving behavior.
Every action by a driver is an indication of intent and intent is monetizable for advertisers and car makers.
General Motors’ Marketplace platform is a perfect example being delivered in cars today of a system making recommendations to drivers in real time directly from the dashboard based on predictive analytics around customer preferences and historical behavior.
2) Artificial Intelligence
This ‘browser-fication’ phenomenon is being accelerated by the shift of artificial intelligence capabilities – in support of automated driving and digital assistants – shifting from the cloud to in-vehicle systems in the form of more powerful processors, improved vehicle networks and on-board storage.
Cars are getting smarter at understanding what humans are doing and helping them move and arrive at their destinations accurately and safely.
HERE is working to integrate location information related to navigation with sensor-based contextual information compiled from Audi, BMW and Daimler vehicles to help drivers avoid obstacles and road hazards along their path.
3) New value propositions
Cars themselves are beginning to be networked, further enhancing safe operation and creating new value propositions and ultimately obviating the need for vehicle ownership.
This trend will play out over a much longer timeline, but the elements are being put in place via cellular connections to enable an entirely different transportation value proposition with collateral and profound impacts on car makers, car dealers and the supporting transportation and wireless infrastructure.
General Motors is modifying its Maven car sharing program to enable all GM vehicles to use the Maven program to allow existing GM vehicle owners to share their cars with other users. Meanwhile, a growing number of auto makers including Porsche, Audi, Volvo, Lexus, Ford and others are introducing wireless connection-enabled, subscription-based programs that allow participants to freely swap cars on a weekly or monthly basis or, indeed, on demand.
4) Carmakers as MVNOs
As part of this transformation, car companies are looking to become mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in their own right as they seek to achieve a carrier-independent business model.
Car companies want their vehicles to be seeking out the best local wireless connections regardless of the service provider.
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5) Wireless networks’ role in vehicle safety
Wireless networks will also play an essential role in combatting cybersecurity threats and supporting real-time map updates for automated driving and software updates for critical – and not-so-critical – on-board systems. But overall, the most significant change coming to automotive connectivity is the recognition and acceptance within the automotive industry that the wireless network has a valid and essential role in vehicle safety.
The first manifestation of this reality – C-V2X – is nothing less than a revolution in the achievement of true automotive IoT. It is amazing to ponder what lies ahead, in just a few short years, with the onset of 5G.
The good news is that for the first time, at a critical evolutionary point in the wireless network industry, the automotive industry is working closely with the wireless industry on mutually agreed-upon standards and protocols.
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