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Who will drive connected services until driverless cars roam the streets?
2016 saw more new cars connected to the network than new phones for the first time in history, and we expect that by 2020, 232 million vehicles will have active in-vehicle connected services. By that time 60 million vehicles will be on the road with some automated driving functions. It is not surprising that Telecom companies have been aggressively making purchases in the connected vehicle space.
Auto makers new and old are also getting serious about the connected car, not just established OEM’s. There have been great strides in vehicle to vehicle, and vehicle to infrastructure technologies to say nothing of automated vehicles. New entrants to the automotive market include Google’s automated car ‘Waymo’ and Apple’s rumored iCar ‘Project Titan’. Uber and Lyft are also making overtures in the automated vehicle market.
However, even though there are many technological advancements, the average car user has yet to enjoy benefits the connected car can bring. Other than B2B aftermarket applications such as UBI, and roadside assistance, new ‘killer apps’ in the connected car segment are slow coming.
Autonomous vehicles may well provide the platform that drives all connected services but will consumers benefit from an open platform across all vehicles? Or do we need to wait for industry consolidation until the average consumer sees any tangible benefits?
I believe there is an interim aftermarket solution that can affect all cars on the road today without waiting for the autonomous vehicle of the future and the solution may be closer than we think. Telecom companies are no strangers to capturing value from connectivity, and judging from past acquisitions by Vodafone (Cobra) and Verizon (Fleetmatics and Telogis), they are not waiting for autonomous vehicles to provide mobility solutions today. They have noticed a market that is underserved and ready for B2B as well as B2C solutions.
The race is on to provide mobility solutions and the competitors are numerous. Consumers may well stand to benefit from future innovations in this exciting market space, but today on top of the list of Connected Car app on Google Play or the App Store is Vodafone. We believe there will soon be additional Telco’s stepping into the ring to provide immediate benefit to consumers with connecting vehicles technology available today. They will drive interest, innovation and new revenue streams way before the automated vehicles of the future are upon us.