The biggest news for marketers is that we are on the cusp of a new period where marketing, not just spectrum software or features, will begin to drive the growth of mobility. The marketing industry will be one important partner for operators in the fight against decreasing revenues from voice services. Since data revenues cannot make up for this loss yet, our industry can step in.
CONNECTED LIVING: the Automotive Sector Moves Up a Gear
When I used to think about connected cars, former smart cars, visions of the Knight Rider came to mind. Today, thanks to mobile technology, that fantasy has morphed into a vision in which automobiles are connected to everything. A vehicle is no longer just a way of transportation but a way to enhance the driving experience. The connected car offers convenience services, infotainment, and social features. It becomes a mobile device that must safely connect drivers and passengers to the world around them.
We often forget there are three different contexts for the connected car (the driver, the passengers, and the vehicle itself), and each one has distinct consuming patterns and connectivity, as well as different value propositions. What that means for the industry is that the ability to collect data and turn it into useful information is critical. Moreso when consumers are billions of different people with different interests and needs. This is the mobile world after all: context, value and customization.
Most of the auto industry, not to mention the wireless operators and app developers, are more than ready to uncover the business potential of the connected car, however, their vision is still blurred by some interesting challenges. Issues like driver distraction, environment (weather differs greatly around the world), the much longer lifecycle of a car when compared to that of a mobile device, software issues like virus or crashes, or privacy and security breaches (what if somebody breaks into your car or hacks into the system?) are just some of the obstacles that keep automakers from deploying a true connected vehicle.
So then, should automakers embed mobile technology in their vehicles? Should consumers be able to synch their mobile devices in their cars? Synching limits functionality and embedding costs a lot of money and renders systems obsolete very quickly since customers go through several versions of their devices in the lifecycle of a car (about ten years). Nevertheless, predictions are that by 2015, over 50% of global vehicles sales will be connected (either by embedded tethered or smart phone integration) and by 2015, every car will be connected in several ways.
But there is still another major unresolved issue surrounding the connected car. What business model should it follow? Will wireless operators cover the extra costs for the services the connected vehicle provides? Will customers be willing to pay for them? The consensus in the room of the MWC seemed to be that as long as you offer value to customers, they will pay for those services. And how do you offer value to very different users? By using Big Data. Problem solved.Or not.
No matter how elusive the right formula is, like it or not, we are on the brink of the connected car. As the consumer awareness about its benefits grows and the cost of telematics lowers, there will be no limits to the connected services it will offer. The world might still be dangerous, but we are a lone crusader no longer.
The group talking about the changes in the retail landscape were not really clear on whether the biggest shift is taking place through consumers using phones at the POS, to buy products on their phones away from the POS or whether the real debate is all around mobile payments.
From driving more traffic in store through geo-targeted sms (AT&T Alerts) or personlized, geo-targeted in-app offers (Groupon).
Near Field Communication (NFC) was prominent at the MWC this year. GSMA even made sure more people were using the technology by giving away NFC enabled Sony Xperia T to some lucky attendees (our Martin Lange among them). Basically, what NFC technology does is to allow NFC-equipped smart devices to exchange information with each other by tapping them or waving them at each other. If you think this sounds quite like Bluetooth, you’re not too far off.
Proponents of this technology will shoot you murderous looks if you dare to express that thought out loud, but really, just stare back. Same goes if you compare it with QR codes.
It still feels like a gimmick, but could turnout to be a very useful one: Ricoh’s 360 degree camera. Or omnidirectional. While the camera itself still feels a little quirky from a product design perspective, the results are fantastic. Shooting high def pictures that are directly transfered to the phone. The pictures can be morphed any way one would like and will surely become the playground for developers to overlay functionality on top of them.