Apple, Google, AT&T, Sprint Make Inroads Into Connected-Car Market
AT&T plans to spend $14 billion over the next three years on new initiatives that involve the connected car. In a November 2012 video, AT&T showed such a car acknowledging the smartphones onboard, alerting the driver to traffic ahead, enabling him to—by voice dictation—send an email to colleagues saying he'd be late, locating and calling a local pizza place so that the driver could place a dinner order, and even communicating with the house when it reached the driveway so that the appropriate lights were turned on.
At the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, Sprint introduced Sprint Velocity, an integrated set of capabilities for auto manufacturers. In a video, Sprint pitched the idea that, rather than being at its best the moment it's driven off a lot, a car, with time, could be personalized, improved, and become smarter and safer with age. What if, Sprint asked, your car had a brain that "truly makes your car, your car ... a brain that you want to take with you when you buy a new car?"
Broadcom announced Jan. 3 that it will showcase its latest products for the auto industry at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. "For many consumers, the car serves as a place where work, entertainment and safety technologies converge," Broadcom officials said in a statement, adding that it wants to provide the "network backbone for today and tomorrow's connected car." It will also show off new 5G technologies.
Nokia's Location & Commerce business has worked with Ford on its Evos concept car, a hybrid that learns the driver's driving habits, music tastes and frequently driven routes. As the digital world melds with the automotive sector, Nokia officials wrote in a July 2012 blog post, "the result will be a personalized driving experience that is smarter, greener and simply better."
Nokia's mapping and navigation expertise have also made it a smart partner for automakers. BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Garmin and Pioneer have all implemented Nokia's mapping content, extending to drivers Nokia's extensive points of interest database, live traffic information and entertainment options. The effect, Nokia officials said, is that the car becomes a command center.
Research In Motion and QNX
Google officials announced Jan. 2 that the company has penned deals with Hyundai Motors Group to extend new capabilities to drivers of new Hyundai and Kia brand vehicles. In addition to Google Maps technology, the deal offers drivers voice-based search capabilities and information about nearby points of interest. Hyundai's Blue Link in-car technology currently offers features such as the ability for the car to call 911 at the press of a button or when the airbags are deployed.
Google also has relationships with Audi, Daimler and the Tesla Motor Co. Google Maps arguably never looked better than on the 17-inch, high-resolution touch display in the Tesla Model X.
Microsoft teamed with Ford in 2005, and in 2007 the first car with their joint effort SYNC technology rolled off the line. SYNC enables users to pair their phone with their car for everything from using voice-controlled on-phone apps and mapping to vehicle service information. In November 2012, the pair celebrated the sale of the 5 millionth SYNC-enabled vehicle. By 2015, Ford expects to have sold 13 million.
In June 2012, Apple introduced an Eyes Free mode on the iPhone and announced that it's working with auto manufacturers to integrate the Siri-based feature into voice-control systems. Through a button on the steering wheel, drivers will be able to ask Siri questions (that she'll ideally answer—and correctly). GM soon after confirmed that it would bring Eyes Free to the Chevrolet Spark and Sonic within 12 months.
Ericsson and Volvo
Ericsson and Volvo officials announced in late 2012 that they're working together to build "the ecosystem around the connected car." Drivers, they said in a Dec. 17 statement, will be able to "download applications, create an online service booking and interact with partners through the Connected Vehicle Cloud built on Ericsson's Service Enablement Platform."