Microsoft says this is its last year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Fine. Move over because the car manufacturers are using the show to unveil stunning location and mobile offerings. It has only been a few years since automakers started coming to CES to pitch new in-vehicle mobile platforms. This year automakers have been knocking themselves out to bring smartphones, location and cloud content into the vehicle to enhance the driving experience. The CES invasion by the vehicle OEMs started in 2007 when Ford introduced Sync at CES. Kia followed in 2010 with UVO powered by Microsoft. 2012 brings a multitude of OEM mobile announcements, including one from first-time CES participant Mercedes-Benz.
Cars are getting smarter. Kia unveiled the next-generation UVO 2, which adds a crash notification assist feature that automatically dials 911 on a connected phone when an airbag deploys. It adds a number of location-based services that are controlled via a smartphone app that includes noting a car’s parked location on a map, transferring destinations from Google maps to the navigation system, and monitoring vehicle location and speed.
And the list goes on. Mercedes Benz made its initial appearance at CES to show off an app that allows drivers to plug iPhones into vehicles to enable the phone’s entertainment and navigation to appear on the in-dash display. Chevrolet introduced a new head unit that will use a smartphone’s apps, such as Pandora, to access cloud-based content and navigation. Ford added Roximity to provide contextual real-time discounts linked to the vehicle’s location and user’s preferences. TCS has its foot in this market, too. It will be supplying hybrid navigation solutions for the QNX in-vehicle car platforms.
After-market activity. You can tweet about your accident, make it a status update, or do both. TomTom has integrated Facebook and Twitter with its navigation app for iPhones and iPads. Information from Facebook events, places and friends will feed to create navigation routes. Destinations and arrival times can then be shared on these networks.
Heavy-weight skinny nav. Garmin has introduced the nüvi 3500 series, its new flagship personal navigation device, an ultra-thin GPS device with a five-inch screen. Capabilities include digital HD traffic and a smartphone link that can add live services, such as traffic information, traffic camera images, weather and fuel prices.
Good luck, Verizon. At a time when straight-up navigation is becoming a utility, Verizon is rolling out a new bundled application app package. It includes their navigation app, as well as NFL Mobile, ringback tones and Verizon Video for $12.99. I don’t know much about the NFL Mobile app, but it better be good. Given the poor marks received by Verizon Video and low interest in ringback tones, the package isn’t looking too appealing when navigation is often a freebie.
Need maps. TomTom will be providing Samsung with map and location content to power the Wave3 smartphone. TomTom will provide map coverage for more than 200 countries, POIs, traffic, 3D maps and landmarks and “safety-related speed cameras.” Safety-related speed cameras?
Enterprise routing trends. Enterprises using vehicle routing software for fleets of service and truck vehicles are increasing their buying of on-board computers, as well as smartphones for driver interfaces. These products are used for improved efficiencies in planning routes, and often feed analytics into a complex logistics system. Customers who used to be satisfied with just obtaining GPS positions of their fleets are now pushing for more telematics and a connected vehicle.
Lower prices and more pressure on productivity have pushed demand for on-board computers that can deliver data about the vehicle’s actual route, and sometimes connects to the engine to provide detail on how the vehicle was driven. Other fleets, particularly service fleets, are tending toward integrating routing apps with smartphones. The phones are cheaper than onboard computers, don’t need to integrated, and still can provide turn-by-turn directions to that day’s route. The trend is toward the Android operating system.