Smart Cars To Replace Smart Phones?

Someone is really thinking outside of the traditional sales box.

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Recently a friend of mine sent me a story that was penned in Alcatel-Lucent’s TechZine about how the connected car will replace my smartphone one day. Well. I can’t quite figure out how I am going to carry my connected car in my vest pocket when I go to a movie, but, one never knows.

First thought was that it would be some sort of “living” fabric. You know, like they have in sci-fi flicks where, when you get out of your car, it turns into a Transformers-like object that morphs into a credit card footprint and you slide it into your pocket or purse. I did a bit of research into this concept and, of course, no one really expects any intelligent vehicle to replace the smart phone. The author was looking to grab you with a catchy title, of course. Even he said that wouldn’t happen.

Nevertheless, that smart car/smart phone connection does have merit, especially in the IoT. A recent statistic shows that nearly 80% of industry experts believe the IoT connectivity will be a primary decision metric in new car purchases. And by 2020, more than 80% of all cars will be IoT-connected. If these pundits are correct, the car as an extension of the smart phone makes some sense – but only from a marketing perspective.

More support of that comes from a report by Machina Research, which predicts that by 2022 there will be 1.8 billion machine-to-machine (M2M) vehicle connections to the IoT. This will be via IoT devices that will interpret real-time information and deliver them to you. The platform will provide services such as real-time traffic navigation, weather, GPS tracking, pay-as-you drive (PAYD) insurance, parking services, infotainment, live and real-time physical interfaces (street conditions, accidents, emergencies, etc.), and much more.

There are also intelligent transportation systems (ITS). That wasn’t mentioned in this piece, but I just wanted to mention that in the end, “Kit,” or a “Judge Dredd” type vehicle isn’t that unimaginable. And the IoT will play an integral part in that.

Now…all of this is nice. But I am a bit fuzzy on exactly how a connected car will really be an integral extension of your smart phone. Sure, it is easy to envision your car having access to your iTunes library on your iPad. Or using the iPass feature on toll roads. Or syncing your personal and confidential data so it can be used when driving (telephone conversations, meeting reminders, appointments, kid’s soccer, grocery shopping, etc.). But all that amounts to, really, is the car being an information delivery mechanism and interactive portal for what is going on with your life – like your smart phone is when you are out of the car. Your car can act like your smart phone to some degree, but for me it is a bit of a stretch to think there is anything special about the connected car beyond another interconnectivity tool.

The marketers are all over this, just like the IoT is a remarketed version of M2M and big data is a reinvented version of analytics. If we just unspectacularly added the car to our portfolio of interconnect, it would quietly become just another “app.”

But the new wave of finding ways to monetize (aka selling) functionality that will add salability and desirability to products is nothing new – whatever it takes to move product. Why would cars be any different? But this time, the car biz is getting help from the smart device industry. Why? Because they both see dollars in it, of course. Your thoughts?