Mojio hopes to connect your unconnected car with some help from AT&T and Telus. The Vancouver-based startup on Tuesday announced its module, which plugs into the on-board diagnostics port of a car, will go on sale by the end of the year in the U.S. and Canada, using its two partners’ 3G networks to bring vehicle and app data to the cloud and your smartphone.
If you’ve been following Mojio, then you’re probably noting its plans have changed since I posted my last update on it in April. Mojio launched its beta over [company]T-Mobile’s[/company] network and planned to continue using T-Mo mobile data services when it launched its first commercial device this summer, but according to Mojio that deal is now dead and AT&T will be Mojio’s U.S. carrier partner. That probably also explains the delay in shipping as Mojio’s modules have to be reconfigured for [company]AT&T[/company] and [company]Telus’s[/company] networks.
Mojio aggregates loads of data from a car’s internal network and computer to generate reports on your driving and the car’s general health. But it’s using vehicle data and its cellular connection to link to other apps as well. For instance, Glympse will use the Mojio module to keep constant tabs on the location of your car, no matter who is driving it.
Mojio is one of many startups making plug-in car modules, but it’s trying to distinguish itself by building its own open development and app distribution platform. So instead of buying an Automatic Link or a Zubie and only getting access to their stable of features, Mojio is trying to get third party developers to optimize everything from parking spot-reservation apps to location-sharing services for its hardware.
The other module makers are innovating plenty. Automatic just announced major integration projects with Ford and IFTTT, while MetroMile has developed a service that warns you when your car is parked in scheduled street sweeping zone. Mojio, however, is embracing an app store model that aims to bring a big range of apps to its device from the get go.
The connectivity necessary to power those apps won’t be free though. Mojio announced its pricing today as well: in the U.S. the module will cost $149 ($169 in Canada) with free service for a year. After that the service will cost $5 a month.
And there’s the rub. We’re increasingly seeing this kind of business model for internet-of-things gadgets, in which cellular connectivity carries a $5 to $10 monthly service fee. While those prices may not seem high individually, costs start mounting if you start connecting your camera, your kid’s watch and your dog’s collar to the wide-area network.
In Mojio’s case it may very well bring enough apps and build enough functionality into its platform to justify such a monthly service fee, but many of the connected gadgets we see emerging today are designed to do one thing well, hardly justifying the costs of connecting them. At Gigaom’s Structure:Connect conference we’ll discuss these emerging internet of things business models in more detail.