Imagine turning the heat on in your car with your mobile device a few minutes before stepping out of the house, without having to turn on the engine. Or your car booking an appointment with the mechanic when it reached a service date. The convenience that these services can provide are incredible – and this is just the tip of the iceberg. The connected car movement has built steady momentum. As wireless networks’ connections are getting stronger, and cars are tapping in, their abilities increase and they are able to provide additional services and enhance the driving experience.
I stumbled upon this interesting rebuttal on the hype of connected cars a couple of months ago and wanted to share my thoughts on the validity of these arguments.
It isn’t surprising to hear that the in-dash OS runs on five-year-old software, the turnaround on new technology is usually fairly slow; with that said, there have been scenarios in which the actual mobile phone serves as the interface (e.g., the Smart Drive app), which means the connected car’s capabilities are no longer entirely limited by dated software.
The second point made in the piece about how companies can not afford having hundreds of thousands of cars sent back to the factory is moot; after all, companies will do what needs to be done. This happens all the time with recalls. In this case, we could probably take such an approach to everything that is a new piece of technology – that “it’s too risky,” and we shouldn’t even bother. Clearly, history suggests the general public thinks otherwise. Those who want the free, optional update will get it, and the rest won’t. At least give them the option.
To address the roaming argument, whether you’re on your two feet or in a car, you’re going to run into weird roaming agreements (especially in Europe, which they brought up in the case). Either way, this problem is not limited to cars, and probably won’t hold the connected car back.
As for manufacturers’ apps being pricey, once again, if a car is controlled by a smartphone, then perhaps cars won’t be limited to manufacturer app stores. I can certainly see the validity of this point, though – for example, Mercedes Benz’s app store charges just under €10 annually for app use. I would personally prefer to pay $10 per year and have regular updates come straight to my car versus the traditional model.
For the article’s point on contracts, generally, companies don’t offer contracts unless there is a hardware deal involved. This is the reason why carriers sell iPhones at an extremely low price but lock you into a contract: they have to recoup the hardware costs. The way things are progressing right now, it’s unlikely that cars will be bundled into contracts. Apps and connected car services will more likely operate like OnStar or Sirius satellite radio; instead of being contract based, they will have monthly charges.
While connected cars introduce a bit of complexity (as do most pieces of new technology), it’s unlikely that these speed bumps will turn into major roadblocks. We’re extremely excited to see what’s on the horizon for connected cars, and we think the technology presents great opportunities for safety, convenience, and an enhanced driving experience.
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