If you have any doubts about the viability of the connected car market, you need only look at some recent stats. General Motors recently shared that its OnStar 4G capabilities will generate $350 million in profit by 2018. And AT&T announced that in Q2 it had added 2.1 million new subscribers, nearly half of which were internet-connected vehicles.
One thing these recent numbers — from leading U.S. automaker and the 27th largest company in the world, respectively — make clear, it that there is enormous economic potential associated with the connected car. When vehicles become connected, the car itself transforms into a hub for an entire ecosystem of connected services that offer a variety of new experiences to consumers and reveal a goldmine of opportunities for businesses across sectors, for manufacturers, mobile operators and more.
Let’s take a look at five diverse industries that are already reaping significant rewards from the booming connected car economy across the globe.
Entertainment streaming: In-car, 4G connections expand the avenues for music, video and media companies to deliver dynamic, monetizable user experiences. For example, in partnership with dozens of automotive brands, Pandora is aiming to become the FM radio of the connected car, dramatically increasing listener activity and opportunities for meaningful, contextual engagement. Wi-fi hotspot functionality allows other devices inside the car to connect to the network, allowing passengers to stream Netflix from tablet devices while benefitting from the greater signal strength of the connected car’s superior antennae.
Mobile app development: GM and Ford have opened their APIs to outside developers, making way for companies across industries to reach their audiences in fresh ways. For example, through Ford’s Sync 3 interface, location-sharing service Glympse can send a driver’s estimated-time-of-arrival to friends and family if he is running late. AccuWeather can offer location-specific forecast information, optimized for the Sync touchscreen display and in-car controls.
Insurance: On-board telematics systems have made it possible for insurance companies to reinvent and reinvigorate their business. Companies like Octo Telematics enable insurers to track actual vehicle activity, providing a sophisticated, unobtrusive method of gathering and evaluating granular data like speed, acceleration, hard braking and airbag deployment. Drivers can opt-in to insurance provider programmes that monitor driving behavior. Removing the guesswork enables insurers to improve their bottom lines via more accurate risk assessment and streamlined claims processing systems. They are also creating strong incentives for responsible driving that improve overall safety on the road.
Local government: City leaders are taking advantage of the digital/physical convergence to more efficiently and effectively manage municipal systems. Initiatives like San Francisco’s SFpark make parking easier and faster. This cuts down on circling, which helps reduce emissions, and makes available parking easier to find, which means less double parking and keeps public transport paths clear. It also equips local governments with invaluable data to inform important decisions related to law enforcement, traffic management and public transportation.
Aftermarket manufacturers: The built-in connectivity of today’s vehicles helps aftermarket component manufacturers operate more effectively while enhancing the services they can deliver via their products. Using sensors connected to the cellular network enabled Continental to roll out its Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) solution, which optimizes delivery routes for their customers by collecting real-time data on road conditions to identify areas with heavy traffic or dangerous conditions. Similarly, connected cars enable aftermarket tracking and recovery provider LoJack to integrate with the on-board telematics of today’s vehicles, making it easy to simply turn on LoJack services and offer free trials, which increases user adoption and revenue.
When businesses become Internet of Things services companies, they become more agile, uncover new revenue sources and enrich the experience for their customers. The growing collection of companies and industries involved in the connected car economy is no exception.
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Author: Jahangir Mohammed is the founder and CEO of Jasper, a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer
Image: A Google employee demonstrates the Android Auto interface for a conference attendee at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco June 26, 2014. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage