A watershed moment may be approaching for the connected vehicle market. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) is about to start on the path towards mandating connected vehicle technology. Interest in the market is not limited to a few countries; last week I moderated a GPS World webinar on the connected vehicle that drew registrants from 40 countries. Other news in the industry includes Sprint removing Sprint Navigation and TeleNav GPS Navigator from bundled data and data add-on plans. A new report shows it has become more expensive to acquire app users. And despite no longer being preinstalled on iOS devices, Google Maps is doing pretty well with Apple iOS users.
During our GPS World connected vehicle webinar, held September 19, I noticed differences in how the audience characterized the connected vehicle. The connected vehicle enables information to be exchanged with other vehicles, devices and/or road infrastructure to provide safety, mobility and consumer functionality. The devices that are used with the connected vehicle can be nomadic (phone, tablet, personal navigation devices), vehicle embedded and aftermarket devices. Communication options are currently cellular, Wi-Fi or DSRC/WAVE.
Regulation Pushing Connected Vehicle Forward. In a recent statement, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) asserts that connected vehicle technology “can transform the nation’s surface transportation safety, mobility and environmental performance.” NHTSA is expected to start rulemaking on the connected vehicle later this year, which could result in a connected car industry mandate in the U.S. While it could take five or more years for final rules and several more years for rules to take effect, it would be a transformative event. “In six years, I expect to see vehicles widely using the technology,” said Scott McCormick of the Connected Vehicle Trade Association. “Vehicle manufacturers are eager for connectivity in vehicles, but need to understand the regulations that will be in play. This hasn’t been idle time, as vehicle makers are ahead of the game and have already embedded some connected vehicle technology into vehicles that can later be activated.”
The commercial fleet market has been the first adopter of connected vehicle technology as efficiencies provide cost savings, but the automotive market is poised to catch up. “Fleets now have access to actionable intelligence from the field,” said Andrew Maliszewski of Micronet, as well as an industry consultant. “Business decisions are now being made from data, including fuel levels, driver behaviors, vehicle performance, weather and traffic conditions, and even real-time trailer connect/disconnect events.”
Ownership of Data is Tricky. Some of the data that is produced inside a vehicle will be of great value to marketers. It will reveal personal information, including your driving habits, where you go, and how you react to in-vehicle marketing. David Jumpa of Airbiquity asserts, “There is uncertainty on who will own the data, but the sensory data, such as how you brake and accelerate, would be owned by the vehicle OEM.” When polled, many listeners of the webinar opined that content and app providers, and not vehicle OEMs or data infrastructure companies, will own personal data generated.
Making Money, or Not. The technology of the connected vehicle market hasn’t been easy, but it has been much simpler than finding the revenue models that will support companies in this market. “In the past, the vehicle market would use a tier-one manufacturer to deliver the entertainment solution, including maps and routing,” said Scott Sedlik of Inrix. “That isn’t the case now, and multiple suppliers work together and are also having to carry the risk that the vehicle OEMs had solely carried.” Some of the content and app providers are making money; others are figuring out the right business model. One of the questions that remain is whether the OEMs will pay for in-vehicle services and content. This is a pivot point of business, Sedlik adds.
Mobile App Marketing Cost at High. For brands that proactively market their apps, the cost of acquiring a loyal user increased in July to $1.80 according to Fiksu’s Cost per Loyal User Index. This is a jump of 30 cents from June, falling just a penny short of the December 2011 price of $1.81. Fiksu attributes the cost rise to brands leveraging Facebook’s mobile app ads, which target consumers based on app and games access on smartphones.
Mobile Map Usage. More than 60 percent of iOS users accessed Apple Maps at least once during the previous 30 days, reports Mobidia. That isn’t too surprising given that it comes installed on the phone. However, 20 percent of iOS users accessed Google Maps during the same period — impressive, since the user has to go to the effort of installing the software. Google Maps usage is heavy, although not as heavy as Apple Maps use. 55 percent of iOS users that use Google Maps, use it weekly; 80 percent of Apple Maps users use it weekly. Not bad, Google.