Blog Post

How connectivity is revolutionizing everything

Car: Drive the next always-on gadget

by Katie Fehrenbacher

Drivers already rely on cell phones, navigation devices and other connected gadgets to stream music, get directions and check on traffic. Now analysts say that within five years, car owners will expect every car to have a data connection built-in to make these tasks — and more — a seamless (and less distracting) part of the driving experience.

GPS devices originally paved the way for connectivity in the car in the mid 2000s, followed by the automakers’ attempts to brand their own communications services like GM’s OnStar and Ford’s Sync. On the other side of the spectrum are super-connected electric cars, like Tesla’s Model S (it has a 17-inch screen inside!) and the Nissan LEAF. These electric vehicles will one day enable utilities to manage the cars’ charging on the grid, essentially making the cars’ fuel source (electricity) another point of connection. (We’ll have the Model S beta at our GigaOM RoadMap!)

There’s also an eco aspect to the connected car. The proliferation of broadband and mobile allowed car sharing companies Zipcar and Getaround to create on-the-go reservation systems, and create iPhone apps to unlock and lock car doors. GPS has a quiet green side, too, since taking the most direct route to a location can cut down significantly on fuel consumption. Just ask FedEx, which used GPS and software for route optimization to reduce their fuel costs.

For startups, the car can actually be a difficult ecosystem to crack. There are few established standards for connectivity in the car and the automakers and cell phone companies dominate the space. Dash Navigation showed some initial promise a few years ago, raising $71 million from investors. But after stalled sales, it was sold to RIM for $8.3 million.

In the next few years, connectivity within the car will become more standardized, and the car could become the next platform for innovation. A next generation of startups will use car data and connectivity to create new vehicle applications and services, most of which we probably haven’t even dreamed up yet.

13 Responses to “How connectivity is revolutionizing everything”

  1. Odile Beniflah

    For trips that are not too far, carpooling is a great travel option to go anywhere instantly. In Europe, it is very popular: students love it for last minute travel when trains or planes are full or too expensive. Mobile apps give you access to rides anywhere: a great back-up plan when you are stuck at the airport and your flight is cancelled.

  2. If you’re in the UK and interested in collaborative consumption, check out A marketplace to lend and borrow your everyday goods, skills and spaces with other’s locally and beyond!

  3. took you long enough :-) Holonomy, david bohm, karl pribram… the interconnectenes theory and holonomics, et al, have been waiting for the market to catch up so they (these innately interconnected works from both physics and neuropsych) could be their as guides… For me , I have waited almost 30 yrs for the marketplace.. my own human and hu-sys evolutionary ontology, and associated products born from it – “The EvoReVo!”, EcoMind, OneMind, LeToonz and LeCozmos, and the LeToonz Ah-Ha and Flo (and other) characters-as-variables within the next big shell/OS shift platform, apps and metrics. Thanks for working at punching a whole into the next wave.

    • @sdinfoserv, Your comment makes me think of a recent talk I saw from Thomas Friedman. His message: Basically in this connected world people can’t afford to be average anymore, there’s too much competition with people competing for jobs on a global scale.

  4. Thomas Curtin

    @akash agarwal I agree, but why not extend this to other aspects of driving, instead of issuing speeding citations police could just send a standard bill for excessive speeds. We could reduce the cost of policing the roads. Just saying this makes me cringe btw…