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Platforms and Partnerships Mark Detroit Telematics Conference

Safety and infotainment systems becoming "must haves" for connected car buyers - and revenue-hungry suppliers.

by on Jun.05, 2009

Ford's Sync system has become one of the more popular - and most flexible entries into the expanding world of Telematics.

Ford's Sync system has become one of the more popular - and most flexible entries into the expanding world of Telematics.

Telematics – wireless communication to and from vehicles – has reached critical mass, or so seemed the consensus among attendees at this week’s Telematics Detroit 2009 in Novi, Michigan. Telematics – wireless communication to and from vehicles – has reached critical mass, or so seemed the consensus among attendees at this week’s Telematics Detroit 2009 in Novi, Michigan.

“Every major automaker is planning to deploy the technology,” according to Phil Magney, vice president of iSuppli Corporation and head of the firm’s automotive practice. “Are telematics services necessary to sell cars? The consensus, increasingly, is ‘yes,’” he said.

That’s because car buyers, especially younger ones, expect to enjoy much the same “connectivity” in their vehicles as they have in their homes and other gathering places. Cars have to accommodate iPods and other MP3 players, smartphones, and whatever other hot new devices the consumer electronics industry can dream up over the course of a vehicle’s lifecycle.

Trouble lies in the mismatch between the short product development cycles common to consumer electronics and the much longer timeframes required for cars. Designing for an unpredictable future is a complex problem, but automotive system suppliers are responding with so-called open development platforms that they promise will be future proof. The platforms are similar if not identical to those now being used by third party vendors developing smartphone applications. Automakers know they need to capitalize on that same kind of creativity, though they have to be much more careful in doing so. (more…)