It’s a streak. The Connected Car was yet again the most exciting emerging technology in the room, this time at the Mobile World Congress (MWC). The connected car service includes navigation, infotainment and location offerings. The big news in this sphere has come from General Motors, but more about that later. Do you remember the death of cellular digital packet data (CDPD)? Now it’s 2G’s turn. The 2G network used by many asset M2M tracking devices is going away. And Amazon is getting in Google’s face with a giant, well-oiled mobile ad network.
Beginning with 2015 car models, AT&T will replace Verizon Wireless as GM’s communications partner. Next year, GM plans to install AT&T LTE modems into many of its vehicles and Verizon will be the network behind GM’s OnStar service. The new modems will enable richer, faster content, including streaming video and radio.
The Connected Car squabbles. Should in-vehicle connectivity be controlled by a smartphone or by an embedded device? There are arguments on both sides. Ford’s forward-thinking connectivity choices have helped elevate what was a dowdy brand. “The last thing we want to do is take this [smartphone] thing that updates every 12-18 months and embed it into a car that has a lifecycle of at least 10 years,” asserted Doug VanDagens of Ford Motor Company. “Users are already paying for the data connection on their phone, and so they shouldn’t be assessed another fee for their car to access a network.” On the flip side, Glenn Lurie of AT&T raised concerns about software updates in a smartphone tethered scenario, in which a user might have to pay for data charges incurred by software updates that auto makers push to vehicles.
Vast market. No matter the approach, the connected car is a huge market opportunity. By 2020, Machina Research predicts that 90 percent of new passenger cars will have some sort of a connectivity platform and the market will reach $600 billion. There are concerns that in-vehicle service offerings may be too complex and could delay uptake. Drivers will want to pay one vendor for in-vehicle services and have pricing and billing options that are not complex.
Prepare for the death of 2G. AT&T plans to shut down its 2G networks by 2017. Verizon is planning to shut down its 2G and 3G EV-DO by 2021. The majority of small enterprises that track assets use 2G GPS modems. Many larger enterprises have been transitioning to 3G (HSPA) in this space. Companies that are considering M2M solutions may want devices that will work long into the future, and as the cutoff date approaches, customers will be increasingly reluctant to make purchases of 2G devices. LTE modems are currently about three times as expensive as 2G modems, which will put a dent in ROI calculations.
Amazon is joining the game. Amazon is rolling out a mobile ad network juggernaut. The mobile ads API, now in beta, enables third-party developers to integrate advertising into Android games and applications. Ad targeting options include GPS coordinates, gender and product floor prices. Android developers have struggled to make money through Google’s own storefront. The Amazon App store for Android has proven lucrative. For every $1 generated by Apple’s App Store for iOS, Amazon generates an average of $.89 per user and Google Play generates just $.23 per user, reports Flurry. Apple has been laying the golden egg, but Amazon knows how to sell and just may surpass Apple.
It’s smartphones. It has finally happened. This year, worldwide shipments of smartphones will squeak by feature phones shipments, predicts analyst firms IHS iSuppli and IDC. Falling smartphone prices and the rise of LTE networks have contributed to the growth in smartphone adoption.
Who were we talking about? Lissted analyzed more than 7,000 tweets about the Mobile World Congress sent by 619 journalists and bloggers and 419 media outlets. Nokia was tweeted about more than any other company, followed by Samsung and Android. Who will lead the hashtag race at CTIA?